‘My son died needlessly’: Grieving Okanagan father of meningitis victim demands answers
A grieving south Okanagan father is demanding answers after his 19-year-old son internally bled to death on the bathroom floor of his home on Oct. 12, 2017.
Aidan Pratt of Oliver, B.C. had contracted meningitis, although his official cause of death is still under investigation due to other health issues that may have contributed to his untimely passing.
“My son, as far as I’m concerned, died needlessly,” his father Lee Pratt said during an emotional interview with Global News on Monday.
Meningitis is a rare bacterial infection that causes inflammation of the lining of the brain.
“He was scared and he was crying out for me, and I will live with that for the rest of my life,” Pratt said.
In mid-September Aidan Pratt’s health started to decline.
Photographs contributed of Aidan and his father Lee Pratt.
“[He] couldn’t eat, throwing up, headaches, bent over burning sensation up his throat,” Pratt said.
Pratt said his son went to the emergency department at the South Okanagan General Hospital on Sept. 21st — but after several hours of waiting, he left before being assessed.
The teenager’s symptoms deteriorated, and he visited his family doctor a week later.
Pratt said his son was prescribed medication for a stomach illness and sent home.
He died 15 days later.
“The healthcare professionals in this valley failed not only my son but they failed everybody around here,” he said.
Pratt said his son had a pre-existing gastrointestinal bleed — a condition he also deals with.
“If you have a GI bleed this [meningitis] is going to ramp it right up,” Pratt said.
The grieving father believes his son may have contracted the infection through contact with a female friend who was later diagnosed with meningitis.
He is now searching for answers — demanding his son’s medical records.
“I feel betrayed, like betrayed by the system. They’ve made it my wife’s and myself’s job to dig for information,” he said.
Pratt also said the Interior Health Authority (IHA) should have alerted the public right away.
On Nov. 9, almost one month after Aidan’s death, the health authority publicly confirmed two cases of meningococcal disease in students attending South Okanagan Secondary School in Oliver.
A week later, IHA expanded immunizations to individuals 15 to 24 years of age in Oliver, Osoyoos and Okanagan Falls after a third case was confirmed and the individual did not attend the high school.
On Dec. 14, IHA declared an outbreak, more than two months after Aidan died. It stated 11 cases of meningococcal disease have been confirmed, with the majority being in the Okanagan.
“It doesn’t matter where Aidan contracted meningitis from, it’s the process of alerting us and alerting the public that needs to be looked at,” Pratt said.
Dr. Karin Goodison, Medical Health Officer at Interior Health, said in a statement that she can’t comment on individual cases due to privacy reasons.
“The information we are able to share is that one individual who tested positive for meningococcal disease has died, but it has not been confirmed if meningococcal disease was the cause of death, as there may have been other contributing factors,” Goodison said.
“We are owed answers, everybody is owed answers, this could be anybody’s kid,” Pratt said.
WATCH BELOW: Vaccinations urged after Okanagan students get potentially deadly disease
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.