Adrián Pina Pelaz is nine years old and is all smile. She smiles at the maternal sweethearts, when her red hair is caressed, she smiles when the physiotherapists move her body and when a screen shows her idolized Peppa Pig. Adrián has suffered from cerebral palsy since he was 15 months old.
He communicates with faces and sounds that express his joy or tantrums; restless brown eyes analyze what is happening around. He was just a baby when he entered a clinic in Valladolid, where he lives, to have a brain MRI done in 2012. He left by ambulance a few hours later, heading to the emergency room, after suffering a supposed cardiac arrest “of 30 seconds”, according to the clinic doctors.
Now, the Provincial Court of Madrid has determined that, in reality, his heart stopped for 10 minutes due to negligence that caused him a near total disability. Insurancethe anesthetist who made the mistake will have to pay compensation of 600,000 euros. Adrian’s parents sigh with some relief after years of fearing that they would be told they were wrong.
The mother, Ana María Pelaz, 46, explains that she and her husband, José Manuel Pina, 47, have learned to combine to care for their son and maintain their routines. The couple, both policemen, organize their shifts both in uniform and at night.
The little one sleeps in the living room, in a recliner that helps him avoid drowning, while one of his parents rests on a sofa and the other on the bed. They rotate every day. Tasks such as taking him and picking him up from the special education school and, twice a week, from a center specialized in complex and long treatments are also distributed.
The marriage adds almost a decade of troubles and legal cases. Pelaz reports that the baby grew up with no problems other than allergies to a protein in milk, shellfish, nuts and eggs. Nothing especially strange. Even so, they noticed it “clumsy” and went to the Q-Diagnóstica clinic in Valladolid for an MRI. Everything changed that December 5, 2012.
He began a three-month journey through hospitals, countless consultations and the desire to find out the truth after an alleged 30-second cardiac arrest. They went to the specialists of the Madrid hospital Niño Jesús and a geneticist from Barcelona, who were surprised by such brutal consequences for a stop of “only” half a minute.
A careful analysis of the brain MRIs revealed incidents only compatible with about 10 minutes of no cardiac activity. Long time. Parents, who now encourage reporting those in similar situations, doubted whether to do so. They finally went to court in June 2013, through criminal proceedings, although two years later they opted for civil proceedings as they saw little chance that the case would succeed.
In the sentence – handed down by a court of first instance in spring 2019, but which the family has recently released, once confirmed in September by the Provincial Court – the judges, whom the couple thank for their understanding and empathy, express that the doctor, insured by the Mutual Insurance Group (AMA), used the anesthetics Miaxolen and Propofol, which contain egg lecithin, despite the fact that the informed consent signed by him and by Adrián’s father included the child’s allergies.
Nor did he inform him of the “risks of the test.” Hence the cardiac arrest that caused cerebral palsy. AMA tried to justify the serious consequences of that negligence when in 2014 it was discovered that Adrián had Angelman syndrome,
These types of processes often run into difficulties in proving the cause-effect relationship between medical error and injuries. Francisco Almodóvar, a lawyer specializing in pharmaceutical law and president of the international association of people affected by medical devices (Asomedic), indicates that proving this causality with expert reports and genetic tests is an expensive path. Doctors, he adds, are not always aware of the multiple and complex reactions that the body can have to drugs.
Parents value the “courage” of the doctors who testified at the trial, fearing that they would protect their colleagues. However, although they celebrate the compensation of 600,000 euros, they have decided to appeal to the Supreme Court to claim 1,238,000 by adding the interest. They trust the High Court.
They don’t absolutely need the money, but … “What if something happens to us?” Asks Pelaz. “There are days that exhausts me, and I am his mother.” This entire dedication must be paid if they fail. “If Adrián is happy, I am happy”, ditch.
During these years, the Pina Pelaz have maintained a complicated family logistics to take care of their son. A day to day marked by Adrián’s needs. This afternoon it is his mother’s turn to fetch him from school. It’s raining.
The boy explodes with joy when he sees her. Kisses and many hugs on the wheelchair, which cost 6,000 euros, which must be pushed towards the car, for which they paid 20,000 euros and another 10,000 to adapt it. Next stop: rehabilitation. The insurance, after much insistence, has been covering the sessions for two years, at a rate of 45 euros each, finally considering it “necessary therapy”.
The receptionists are happy to see the boy, who will pass through the agile hands of Laura García, an outpatient speech therapist. Cartoons entertain you. García details that with his fingers and different stimuli of textures and temperatures he tries to normalize the sensations of the minor, who has hypersensitivity, and little by little get him to eat food.
The child is fed by injections of nutrients thanks to a “button” that connects to the stomach. The physiotherapist Gema del Olmo is in charge of revitalizing the reduced motor skills. “Let’s make the croquette!”, He encourages him, and stretches and moves his limbs on a stretcher in front of a mirror where Adrián does not stop looking at himself.
José Manuel Pina entertains his son with a colorful rattle. The house combines work material from the police officers, such as gymnastics equipment and class notes, with baskets of toys. A framed Atlético de Madrid jersey, signed by the squad to support the little one, presides over one wall. The Pina Pelaz champions that “if you believe and work, you can” proclaimed by coach Simeone. And Adrián smiles.