WASHINGTON — A Poulsbo mother is sharing her story after a misdiagnosis during her pregnancy had her undergo two treatments with the powerful drug methotrexate. Laura Brown’s baby boy survived.
“Every doctor I’ve talked to- says, ‘What are you talking about this doesn’t happen? That’s not a thing’. It is very much a thing,” said Laura Brown of Poulsbo. She says her son, Garrett, who goes by “G”, is living proof.
In August 2017, after a positive pregnancy test, Laura Brown went to her doctor at Kitsap OBGYN in Silverdale. She’d had some cramping and bleeding, so they did an ultrasound.
“On the ultrasound, it was literally a blob, a misshapen blob and the ultrasound tech had thought it might have just been a blood clot floating around. And Dr. Quimby said that could be what it is, or it could a misshapen sac or egg, meaning unhealthy. A healthy one would be circular,” remembered Brown.
There was concern it wasn’t attached and could become an ectopic pregnancy and put her life at risk.
“The way she explained it is it potentially could go up into my tubes and attach there and cause problems. If it grows from there it could burst inside,” said Brown.
She says they ordered a blood test. Brown got a call that afternoon from a nurse and says she was told there was no chance it was a viable pregnancy. They told her to come in the same day to get an injection of methotrexate.
“I said ‘Are you sure?’ Because we didn’t want to do anything we shouldn’t be doing. She said, ‘Yep, we are sure. Come on in’,” remembered Brown.
Brown was given a dose of methotrexate, a drug used to terminate pregnancies, in this case-to absorb the non-viable sac. She had more blood tests. Three weeks later they gave her a second round of the drug.
When her blood tests still didn’t show the expected result, that’s when they ordered another ultrasound. On the screen, Brown said she saw exactly what she saw when she was pregnant with her daughter.
“The only thing I can remember is oh my gosh. We have been trying to save me from this horrible scenario and save my life, and in reality, we were attacking him,” said Brown.
Brown was so upset she couldn’t talk, she texted her husband, paced outside, waiting to see her doctor.
She says Dr. Jennifer Quimby at Kitsap OBGYN immediately apologized and then told Brown what she expected from a baby exposed to such high levels of methotrexate, including missing limbs, abnormalities with his heart and brain.
Brown found a new doctor and spent the rest of the pregnancy wondering how much damage her unborn baby boy suffered from the misdiagnosis.
She found support online from other moms who had similar stories. ( https://www.facebook.com/groups/520020159018687/)
She says when her baby would kick, she worried if he was in pain.
G was born at 36 weeks, with doctors at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma ready to care for him. He spent two weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit.
Doctors discovered his intestines were turned around. He has soft spots in his skull, abnormalities with his spine, ribs, fingers and toes.
“He’s non-verbal, he’s 100 percent reliant on his g-tube for feeding. HE is developmentally delayed, he’s had seven surgeries, “Brown explained.
G can say two words—mom and no. He’s learning sign language. He is happy and playful, and the best little brother for his sister Kacey.
There will be more surgeries, and uncertainty for G. His parents filed a lawsuit against Dr. Jennifer Quimby, the OBGYN who misdiagnosed Laura’s condition.
John Gagliardi, of the Luvera Law Firm, represented the Brown family. The case was settled for 2 million dollars. That was all the insurance money available.
“If the doctor would have just been a little more careful and made sure of the diagnosis before giving this dangerous drug, methotrexate, it could have been prevented,” said Attorney John Gagliardi. “If there is no imminent life-threatening problem for the mom, take a breath, pause, make sure you have the right diagnosis before you give this devastating drug that can have life-altering consequences.”
KIRO-7 Reached out to Dr. Jennifer Quimby for comment. Her attorney sent a statement:
“Dr. Quimby’s heartfelt sympathy goes out to the Brown family, and she acknowledges the difficult challenges they will have to meet all of Garrett’s needs. Dr. Quimby and Kitsap OBGYN care about the health and well-being of each of their patients and promptly resolved this matter to allow all parties to move forward. They remain dedicated to providing excellent care to patients in the Kitsap community.”
For Brown, it is about accountability and education. She wants women to know this can happen.
“If women are out there, families facing the same dilemma and they have time, we want them to see that and maybe take a chance and get that second opinion, maybe a second ultrasound in a few days. It could make a world of difference, the world,” said Brown. “I had time, he had time, to show us he was there. But we didn’t give it to him.”
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