Harry Procko

Harry ProckoName: Harry Procko
Died: Jun 23, 2014
Age at death: 4
Cause of death: Medical neglect
Location: Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, UK

Harry's father called him "my little monkey boy". His mother danced with him in her arms. He was a night owl who was often up at 3 a.m. watching children's TV. He could say "mum" and walk a few steps, but he couldn't talk otherwise. He was happy and the darling of his parents.

At four years old, Harry contracted a stomach virus, and his parents took him to the hospital. Even though he was severely stressed out by the hospital environment, the hospital forced little Harry and his parents to wait for nine hours for tests that could have told them just how sick the boy was. His parents finally decided to take him home so he could rest, and brought him back the next day. Again, he was given no treatment and no tests, and his parents were told that he "looked better" and should go home.

Two days later, Harry's father found Harry unconscious in his bed. They rushed their boy to the hospital, but resuscitation proved unsuccessful, and Harry died from the severe dehydration caused by his untreated gastritis. Now his parents are campaigning for improvements to medical care for special-needs children like Harry, who did not receive the basic medical care that might have saved his life.

Editor's note: Mostly non-verbal and unable to tell anyone how sick he was, Harry Procko was particularly vulnerable to neglect in a health care system where workers are not trained to understand that a sick autistic child may not act like a sick typical child. His story is one that could happen to any child at a careless hospital, but his autism increased the odds that it would happen to him.

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