One Child’s Traumatic Brain Injury Inspires Hope for Others

Following the tragic death of their four-year old daughter Lauren, Dan and Ann Flood channeled both their grief and compassion for other infants with traumatic brain injuries into a non-profit organization entitled Lauren’s Hope Foundation.

Lauren Flood was born three weeks premature in 2003. As the Flood’s second child, the pregnancy was predictable and routine up until the hours just before Lauren’s birth.

Dan recalled waking to a crash, before seeing that his 8 months-along pregnant wife had fainted in the bathroom. “There was a puddle of blood on the floor like something you’d see in a horror movie,” he said, describing the scene.

Ann was taken to a nearby hospital where doctors determined that she had experienced a placental abruption, which is a premature separation of the uterus from the placenta. She delivered Lauren quickly after arriving to the hospital and remained there while her premature daughter was taken to a nearby children’s hospital.

The abruptness of Lauren’s birth impacted her health immediately, and doctors diagnosed her with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, a very severe form of the condition that affects cognitive ability as well as physical mobility. This form often can cause developmental problems or even mental retardation.

Although limited because of the condition, Ann and Dan explored several avenues looking for ways to encourage Lauren’s development, including a variety of equestrian and water therapies and use of a device to help her communicate. Despite these tools, Lauren did not smile for the six months of her life, and did not laugh until she was four years old.

Lauren was blessed with a healthy little sister when she was four. Ella connected quickly with her older sister. “She never saw her any different. Ella would grab a diaper for her sister and one for herself,” Ann said, noting that Ella offered to help with Lauren’s needs as she grew older.

Lauren required a set of medications each night, as well as the use of a feeding tube mechanism to ensure she received adequate nutrition.

One morning around Christmas, Ann awoke to the sound of the feeding tube, which denoted that it was empty. Upon going in to check on Lauren, Ann discovered that the child had died in her sleep, more than likely as a result of one of the many seizures she experienced each day. Dan tried to resuscitate her until emergency first responders arrived, but Lauren had already died in her sleep. The official cause of death was classified as unknown.

Months after Lauren’s death, Ann heard news of a unique medical program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. that used a hypothermic machine to cool a baby’s head after birth. This treatment was proving helpful in cases of traumatic brain injury, as the cooling temperatures reduced swelling and prevented additional damage in newborns.

According to Dr. Lorraine Dickey, a neonatal intensive care physician at a hospital near the Floods, the program can prevent “secondary cell damage in brain-injured babies.” While not a complete cure, the program can minimize the collective damage of the injury.

In an effort to purchase one of these machines for their local hospital, the Floods founded Lauren’s Hope Foundation, and raised nearly $100,000 in two years to purchase a unit. Once able to purchase two, she proposed to Dr. Dickey that the hospital, Lehigh Valley Hospital, train and equip their staff to operate the units.

On January 8, months after Ann’s proposal, the program was inaugurated. Only a day later, the hypothermic treatment intervened to help minimize brain damage for newborn Liam Nagy. Following three days of treatment, Liam was showing responses to both parents and was eating.

For more information about Lauren’s Hope Foundation, visit www.laurenshopefoundation.com.

If your child suffers from a traumatic brain injury such as cerebral palsy as the result of medical negligence or a physician’s mistake, the compassionate and experienced attorneys at the Child Injury Firm are ready and willing to discuss your case with you. Contact us today.

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