K. D.

Name: K. D.
Died: April 23, 2020.
Age at death: 30.
Cause of death: Medical neglect.
Location: Forest Hills, Queens, New York City, New York, USA.

K. D. was a Filipino-American inmate at Rikers Island, having violated his probation for possession of child porn. Before he was imprisoned, he lived with his mother, father, and younger sister. He had autism, depression, and an anxiety disorder, as well as asthma, gout, and sleep apnea. In prison, he had to go into protective custody because, due to his charges, he was in danger of violence from other inmates. He was placed in a medical unit so that he could have access to his CPAP machine, a non-invasive ventilator that keeps sleep apnea patients breathing during the night.

K.D. began having symptoms of COVID and tested positive, but the 39-bed medical dorm he was housed in for the first six days after his diagnosis, and which was more than half full, was not a COVID ward. From this we can conclude that staff did not particularly care whether their prisoners spread COVID to one another.

Despite the fact that K.D. had asthma and sleep apnea staff took away his CPAP machine and would not give him nebulizer treatments. Their rationale was that these could spread COVID. (See above: They also put infected patients in the same ward with non-infected patients, making it doubtful that their main motivation was to slow the spread of COVID.)

K.D. had trouble getting the simplest of medical treatments, reporting to his mother that he couldn’t even get Tylenol for his fever. They also did not tell K.D. that he had COVID for two days after he was diagnosed. Only when he went into respiratory distress was he taken to Bellevue Hospital.

At Bellevue, K.D. was finally allowed his nebulizer treatments and CPAP, but his health declined steadily. He was able to talk to his mother on the phone, who began advocating for him to be granted compassionate release. But by the time a formal hearing was convened, K.D. was already on a ventilator and could not be moved. About two weeks later, he died from COVID at the age of 30.

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Siân Hewitt

Hewitt, SianName: Siân Hewitt.
Died: April 6, 2019.
Age at death: 25.
Cause of death: Medical neglect (Delayed treatment for pulmonary embolism).
Location: Eaglestone, England, UK.

One of Siân’s colleagues wrote an article about her after she died. In it, he says:

“Siân had joined my team as a summer intern. She was qualified to the hilt. A 1st class degree. Experience volunteering, experience writing newspaper leaders, experience in live social media at the Guardian. Travel alone to India, a catalogue of interjections to support others and tackle injustices, an excellent written style. She was in.

“…[W]orking with her and subsequently mentoring her, what I never appreciated until her funeral was just how brave Siân was. She was fearless but full of fear.

“EVERY decision she made was peppered by doubt and anxiety. What to wear. How to travel. What she’d do that day. What situations she’d find herself in. EVERY moment full of paralysing angst. It’s hard to imagine.

But she didn’t just take these feelings lying down, she continually mustered an unbelievable sense of purpose and strength to overcome them. As a result her short life was a monumental patchwork of tiny successes built from a thousand battles she had won within herself day after day after day.”

Siân had bipolar disorder as well as Asperger’s, and she had to be hospitalized when she had a manic episode. However, when she was hospitalized, she became gradually more and more ill, and none of the staff–though they had had training in spotting the signs of physical illness–were able to detect Siân’s problem. Then, when she collapsed, they delayed administering CPR.

Siân died of a pulmonary embolism–a blockage in the blood vessels of the lung. People with bipolar disorder are known to be at increased risk.

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Antoin Hawes Jr.

Name: Antoin Hawes Jr.
Died: May 13, 2018.
Age at death: 28.
Cause of death: Medical neglect (Untreated pneumonia).
Location: Augusta, Georgia, USA.

Antoin’s parents kept him locked in a room with the window boarded up, chained by his ankle. He had to sleep on old couch cushions wrapped in garbage bags and use a bucket for a toilet. There were no lights, no heating, and no air conditioning. When he got sick, they didn’t get him medical help. By the time an ambulance was finally called, he had died of pneumonia.

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5-year-old girl

Name Unknown.
Died: February 19, 2018.
Age at death: 5.
Cause of death: Abuse (Strangled).
Location: Seoul, South Korea.

This five-year-old girl had a developmental disability and a speech delay, but she was not given a diagnosis because her doctors felt her symptoms were not severe enough.

Her mother tried to perform an exorcism to cure her disability, and strangled her during the exorcism.

Mother kills 5-year-old daughter in exorcism rite, police say

John Worthington

Photo of John Worthington, a young man with fair skin, dark hair, and a closely-trimmed beard and mustache.Name: John Worthington.
Died: August 11, 2017.
Age at death: 32.
Cause of death: Suicide (Committed suicide after emergency services hung up on him because of his speech impediment).
Location: Norwich, England, UK.

John was a former nightclub owner. He was good with his hands and liked to fix things.

John’s mental health began to deteriorate. He was trying to find mental health assistance, but he found it near impossible. He visited his doctor, but was told to go away and call the NHS crisis line instead. He was told that he couldn’t call 999 when he was in crisis. He had to wait five months for a simple assessment.

At 32, John was finally diagnosed with emotionally unstable personality disorder and anxiety disorder. He got a diagnosis, but no treatment.

Over two years after he had first reported suicidal ideation and about nine months after he finally got a diagnosis, John was calling the NHS crisis line repeatedly, begging for help. In crisis, he called the NHS line four times. The operator lost patience with him and hung up because he had a speech impediment.

That night, John committed suicide. He survived the initial attempt, but his brain was so badly damaged that he died in the hospital a month later.

Editor’s note: The stigma of emotionally unstable personality disorder, formerly known as borderline personality disorder, is such that people with this diagnosis have trouble finding therapists who are willing to treat them. The disorder involves an unstable sense of self, intense and unstable relationships, and uncontrolled emotions. The label “borderline” has become synonymous with “troublesome patient”, making it difficult for these people to find help regardless of how much they need it. The name change from “borderline” to “emotionally unstable” does not seem to have alleviated this problem.

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