Dennis Quaid and his ex-wife, Kimberly, lived through the worst day of their lives in 2007, as their newborn twins struggled between life and death following an accidental drug overdose.
One of the leading causes of death in the world is medical error, which sadly accounts for a huge percentage of infant mortality. Notably, comedic actor Dennis Quaid's fraternal twins Zoe and Thomas almost made this statistic.
The story of the Quaid twins went viral in 2007 after a nurse accidentally administered an overdose of Heparin, a blood-thinning injection, on them, which nearly claimed their lives.
Dennis Quaid at SiriusXM Studios on December 02, 2019. | Photo: Getty Images
THE UNFORTUNATE OCCURRENCE
In November 2007, Dennis and his then-wife Kimberly Quaid couldn't have been happier to welcome their first issue via surrogacy. However, their joys were cut short when they learned of the unfortunate incident that had befallen their kids.
A night before the discovery, the parents, who left their 10-day-olds at the hospital under professional care, called the clinic at 9 p.m., following a bad haunch, to check on both babies. A nurse convinced them the kids were okay.
However, they discovered it was all a sham when they arrived at the hospital the next day to find medical experts working round the clock to save the babies.
The liability division of Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles was also present, comprising lawyers gearing up for risk management. That was when the parents learned that their twins were each given two adult doses of Heparin, which was a thousand times more potent than the infant dose.
As a result, the newborns' blood thinned to the consistency of water, causing them to bleed uncontrollably from every opening in their bodies. Dennis described the gruesome encounter as a life and death situation, which would have been avoidable if the nurses had taken time to read the labels before administering the doses.
More than the hospital and its employees, the couple blamed the drug manufacturers for not properly differentiating the bottle shape and labels during production.
The Quaids became more frantic when they learned that three of six babies died a year before, in Indianapolis, from the same costly mistake.
For approximately 40 hours, doctors and nurses tried to avert the crisis, administering Heparin antidotes among other blood-coagulating treatments on the kids.
Finally, the twins stabilized, spending the next 12 days gradually recovering in the hospital. Luckily, Zoe and Thomas survived and finally got the chance to go home with their parents.
Ultimately, Dennis and Kimberly reached a settlement of $750,000 against Cedars-Sinai Hospital. They also sued the Heparin-manufacturing company Baxter International for negligence.
The company, which issued a nationwide safety alert and introduced a new peel-off label to differentiate the infant dose following the death of the Indianapolis infants, denied being responsible for the Quaid twins overdose.
According to them, it was the responsibility of medical professionals to read labels properly before administering any drugs.
Subsequently, Cedars-Sinai put automated measures in place to curb human errors in drug administration, hence saving hundreds of thousands of adults and infants from dying due to such negligence.
The overdose also set Dennis and Kimberly on a new life-saving path. They have since established an organization that creates awareness about the dangers of human medical errors and helps bring perpetrators to book.
WHAT THE PARENTS HAD TO SAY
While the encounter emotionally drained the parents, it opened their eyes to the abnormality in the failed health system. Dennis recalled: "These mistakes that occurred to us are not unique. And they are not unique even to Cedars. They happen in every hospital, in every state in this country."
Years of research made the actor realize at least a hundred thousand people were dying each year in hospitals due to avoidable medical mistakes.
The parents were even more abashed when someone at the hospital allegedly leaked the information about their twins' accident to the media, despite the hospital's reassurance of secrecy.
Their feeling of betrayal towards Cedars was intensified, as close relatives, whom they have been keeping the sad news from all along, got to find out about it on TMZ.
To them, the prestigious Cedars-Sinai not only put their kids' lives at risk but also breached their confidentiality by deciding to keep the state of the twins from them for almost 24 hours until they arrived at the clinic the following day.
Expressing his feeling of betrayal, Dennis said: "Our kids could have been dying, and we wouldn't have been able to come down to the hospital to say goodbye." The leak of the information to news outlets only worsened the situation and the couple's grievance towards the hospital.
THE QUAID TWINS TODAY
A couple of tests were conducted on the kids as they progressed in years to ensure there were no residual side effects from the overdose. Now 13, Zoe and Thomas are alive and healthy, serving as living evidence of a medical miracle.
Notably, their stories changed the medical system for the better, making health professionals more careful with medications while prompting manufacturing companies to look into safer means of administering medications.
In a 2015 interview, Dennis confirmed both kids were doing amazingly well eight years later and even topped the class academically. As far as side effects go, that's certainly a desirable one!