Name: Melody Driscoll.
Died: July 3, 2018.
Age at death: 11.
Cause of death: Medical malpractice (Necessary medication withdrawn, signs of pain ignored; internal bleeding from pancreatitis).
Location: London, England, UK.
Melody couldn’t talk, but she could understand everything around her. She was a fan of singer Ed Sheeran and owned her own guitar; the first time she saw him on TV, she fell in love with him. When she was nine years old, Ed Sheeran visited her in the hospital. At first she didn’t believe it was really him because he had cut his hair; but then he showed her his tattoos. Realizing it was really him, she couldn’t stop smiling.
Her favorite color was yellow. Sometimes, when a doctor tried to listen to her chest, she would grin mischievously and hold her breath. She had four brothers.
Melody had several other conditions, including intestinal failure and eventually severe chronic pain. When she was four years old and dying, her parents decided that even though being on strong painkillers and TPN (being fed nutrients through an IV) might shorten her life, it would improve the quality of the life she did have. This turned out to be true; with the aid of painkillers and medical support, Melody lived relatively happy despite her illness and constant hospitalization. She was not supposed to live past the age of four, but with TPN and painkillers, she made it to the age of eleven.
At eleven, Melody’s liver was starting to give out from the TPN. She was having repeated infections. And then came the last straw: Her doctors decided to withdraw her pain medication. Every time they had tried this before, Melody’s body had begun to give out, the stress of pain and withdrawal from the medication simply too much for her to handle, and Melody’s parents had to insist she be put back on the medication which, as a terminally ill child in severe pain, she needed to keep her quality of life reasonably good.
But when Melody was transferred to a new hospital to have her care overseen by a liver specialist, the doctors decided that she didn’t need painkillers and stopped her medication. They were convinced that her crying, writhing in pain, and indicating where it hurt was just “behavioral problems”. The doctors even threatened to have her parents’ custody of Melody taken away and later applied to have all medical decisions be reviewed by the court. Threatened with having Melody die alone without her parents by her side, her parents decided to stop fighting and stay with Melody instead.
After being taken off medication, Melody’s health quickly deteriorated. She died, after eleven weeks of pain and increased internal bleeding, when doctors perforated her bowel with a tube while trying to treat her pancreatitis.
Ed Sheeran played a tribute at her funeral.
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