FORT WORTH, Texas – Texas Health Resources issued an apology Friday after a baby in the neonatal intensive care unit at Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth was fed breast milk from the wrong mother.
The milk had somehow been kept in storage in the NICU for three months after Kandace Espinosa’s son Jaxon was discharged.
Espinosa said she received a call from a NICU manager telling her the hospital accidentally kept her milk and gave it to another baby.
“I really relate this whole situation as if you’re a patient in a hospital and your next-door neighbor brought medication from home and you got that medication from home,” Espinosa said.
Breast milk can transmit diseases. Mothers of babies who get donor milk give their consent and know that donor’s health history.
Speaking from experience she added, “NICU parents, they don’t need any more trouble or worries.”
Jaxon was born prematurely at Harris Methodist Hospital and spent three weeks in the NICU. During that time, Espinosa pumped her breast milk and stored it in barcoded bottles in a NICU refrigerator or freezer.
She says she saw nurses scan the bottles before each feeding. “They’d read my name out loud, and say, ‘Alright this is for Baby E.’”
When Jaxon went home, Espinosa’s leftover milk came home with them. She said she signed papers acknowledging the milk had been turned over to her.
Stephen O’Brien, a spokesman for Texas Health Resources, acknowledged the mistake in a statement on Friday. “We regret that this happened and apologize for the mistake,” he said. “We have conducted a full review of what happened and have reinforced our safeguards to better avoid this in the future.”
Espinosa said, “I don’t know how you can reinforce what I think would be almost unbreakable. How are you able to scan the bottle and it be OK for another patient? Sounds more like, if it’s not a human error, it’s a system error and I think that’s what needs to be addressed because I don’t think any system that’s fully functioning would allow you to scan that bottle to another patient when it’s already registered to another.”
Espinosa donates breast milk to a Fort Worth mom. And at first, she thought it was nice for another baby to receive her milk. But within a few moments she realized, “The mom I donate to, she can consent. She knows my medical history, she knows my medication list. She knows who I am.”
Espinosa said her health is clean, but she’d like to personally meet this baby’s family for their peace of mind and hers.