If you’ve been reading me for a while, you may remember Everly Macario and her son Simon Sparrow: I told their story in my 2010 book Superbug and blogged about them in 2011. Everly is a public health researcher in Chicago and the sister and daughter of physicians. Yet despite all her own knowledge, and all the knowledge resident in her family, she was unable to protect 17-month-old Simon from the MRSA infection that killed him in 24 hours in 2004.
Simon, as I wrote about him last year, was:
[A] big, sturdy child with no health problems except a touch of asthma. The day before he died, he woke up feverish and disoriented, startling his parents with a cry unlike anything they had heard from him before. It was a busy morning — his older sister had a stomach virus — but they got him to the pediatric ER, got him checked, and brought him home when doctors found nothing unusual going on.
A few hours later, Everly was working at home, watching both kids, and Simon’s breathing changed. Her husband James, a history professor, had driven a few hours away to give a speech. She called a friend who is a pediatrician, held the phone up to Simon’s nose and mouth so she could hear, and then got back on the line.
“Hang up,” her friend said. “Call 911.”
She did, and then she called her husband, who reversed course and began tearing back to the city. At the hospital, Simon failed rapidly: His heart raced, his blood pressure crashed, his lungs filled with fluid. His skin darkened with pinpoint hemorrhages. He died the following morning.