Thursday, 24 March 2011

SBS: Missouri: caregiver Rebecca Harris takes Alford plea

Trish Feldt |  March 21, 2011
It was was an ordinary day in the Wakefield home. On October 26, 2007, Caprina, a busy mom, was headed out to work and dad, Aaron, had a few hours before he had to go to work himself. He fed his 4-month-old son, Kaleb and 2-year-old daughter, Ayden breakfast, then spent the rest of the morning playing with the children.
After lunch, Aaron left for work and entrusted his precious children to be cared for by Rebecca Lynn Harris. This was their new routine after Caprina returned to work full time on October 1, 2007. Harris, formerly of O’Fallon, was hired by the Wakefield’s as an in-home caregiver.
At 4:57 p.m., Caprina received a phone call from Harris, telling her that Kaleb wasn’t breathing and that paramedics were transporting him to Barnes-St. Peters Hospital.
“I arrived at the hospital and was met with a wall of hospital personnel who wouldn’t let me see him, nor did they tell me what was wrong. Finally, a pediatric doctor ascended to the hallway with the news that changed everything,” Caprina said.
Kaleb had a skull fracture and bleeding in the brain. The doctors couldn't tell how severe the damage was with their limited equipment. Kaleb was transported to St. Louis Children’s Hospital for further treatment.
“The next several weeks at Children’s Hospital were touch and go. Kaleb’s status would take one step forward and then two back. We didn’t know for two weeks if our son was going to survive,” Wakefield said.
Kaleb did survive. The Wakefields knew they had a long road ahead of them, but hoped Kaleb’s condition would continue to improve.
Kaleb learning to walk.
It was determined that Kaleb had been violently shaken. Caprina Wakefield said the family is still involved in an ongoing legal battle with Harris, who took an Alford Plea last November.
Also known as Shaken Baby Syndrome, this type of abuse oftentimes causes severe brain damage in the victim. Shaking a baby causes the brain to rock back and forth in the skull. When a child is shaken, the brain suffers contusions, or bruising from hitting the skull and thousands of tiny blood vessels in the brain break causing bleeding on the brain. The combination of the contusions and bleeding causes the brain to swell. When this happens, the brains intercranial pressure becomes excessive, causing brain damage. This damage is what results in the baby’s life long struggles.
A month after being released from the hospital, Kaleb began to have myoclonic seizures and was put on three different seizure medicines to control them. The medicines significantly retarded his brain activity, which delayed Kaleb’s development further. Kaleb also suffered from chronic respiratory diseases, such as pneumonia and chronic bronchitis because he was unable to move like a normally developing child. He took nebulizer treatments four times a day along with his seizure medicines. He was admitted to the hospital a couple of times because of high fevers.
“Taking Kaleb to the E.R. at Children’s practically became a routine exercise for our family. Much like a fire drill, we had a plan that we followed when we suspected Kaleb needed to go to the hospital. In addition to all of this, we were also facing the stress of dealing with the legal aspect of Kaleb’s injury,” Caprina said.
Eventually, Kaleb was successfully weaned off the seizure medications, which has improved his rehabilitation. Kaleb still has a long way to go.  At almost 4 years old, he is just now learning to walk. Most children his age are feeding and dressing themselves, but for Kaleb, those are skills he has yet to master.

No comments:

Post a Comment