Warning: This story deals with disturbing subject matter that may upset and trigger some readers. Discretion is advised.
Last December, eight-year-old Jaxon Glubis told his parents he had “the best Christmas ever.”
Finding the elf on the shelf, unwrapping gifts and playing with Roblox would be some of the last memories the Abbotsford, B.C. family shared together.
Jaxon died on Dec. 28, 2021 of hematoma — a brain bleed — one day after he was sent home from the Abbotsford Regional Hospital without the CT scan his mother requested.
His parents, Cinzia Rossi and Daniel Glubis, have registered a patient quality care complaint with the Fraser Health Authority, and are pressing for answers about his care in the 48 hours before his death.
“I feel like if he had had a glucose test, if he had had a blood test, if he had had pretty much any test … they would have been able to catch this,” said Rossi, tears streaming down her face.
“He was my only child. He was my sunshine. I lived for Jaxon.”
Jaxon was rushed to the emergency department at the Abbotsford Regional Hospital on Dec. 27 after experiencing head pain so severe, he let out a “blood-curdling scream,” and threw up. He vomited violently at the hospital, said Rossi, and 45 minutes later, she carried him into a room to have his vitals checked.
That afternoon, Jaxon told a doctor performing neurological tests that he couldn’t feel the right side of his head, his mother said. She told the doctor Jaxon may have bumped his head four days earlier, but there was no blood and the symptoms he was experiencing were new.
Concerned about his weakness and lethargy, Rossi said she pressed the doctor for a CT scan, but he said it wasn’t necessary.
“I’ll never forget his words because I’ve been thinking of them for the last five months to this day,” said Rossi, who kept detailed notes of Jaxson’s symptoms and appointments.
“He said, ‘I don’t believe he needs one. One in 500 children develop cancer from the radiation from CT scans. I don’t believe it’s a tumour and I don’t believe it’s a brain bleed or anything of that nature.'”
Fraser Health declined to comment on the specifics of the case due to patient confidentiality concerns. The authority maintained that position, despite the parents’ willingness to consent that information about Jaxon’s care be shared with Global News.
In a statement sent to Global News after publication, however, it confirmed the family had reached out to its Patient Care Quality Office, and “that process is underway.”
“As the patient received care at BC Children’s Hospital following their presentation to Abbotsford Regional Hospital, we were not made aware of the outcome until the family recently reached out to our Patient Care Quality Office,” wrote Dr. Craig Murray, regional medical director of emergency medicine for Fraser Health.
“Abbotsford Regional Hospital site leadership is reaching out to the patient’s family to discuss any concerns they have regarding the care the patient received at Abbotsford Regional Hospital.”
Jaxon was sent home on Dec. 27 after testing negative for COVID-19, being given Tylenol, Advil and instructions to return the next day if he still felt nauseous or had a headache.
“I felt brushed off, I felt patronized. I felt like he was rushed out the door so (the doctor) could get on with his day,” Rossi said.
On Dec. 28, Jaxon’s parents said he woke up with a clear head, but the nausea persisted. He threw up, watched some television, and then began screaming while holding his head and vomiting more.
“This time it was louder,” Rossi said. “He dropped to his knees and he just screamed. He started throwing up, five or six times. He couldn’t stop. He started to lose consciousness.”
Once again, Rossi and Glubis rushed their child to Abbotsford Regional Hospital emergency department, where he slipped in and out of consciousness. He was hooked up to an IV and given a CT scan.
Ten minutes later, he was put on life support and in need of a transfer and immediate neuro surgery, his parents said.
“His tiny little body just lay there. He regained consciousness for about five seconds,” said Rossi, her husband’s arm wrapped around her.
“I was holding his hand and I said, ‘Jaxon, say hi mama.’ He said, ‘Hi mama.’ I said, ‘Can you say it again?’ He said, ‘Hi mama.’ Those were the last words he said.”
Jaxon was taken to BC Children’s Hospital in an ambulance and underwent what doctors reportedly told his parents would be a five- or six-hour surgery. After just two hours, Rossi said a surgeon came out of the operating room, and told them their son wouldn’t make it.
“I screamed and I fell to the floor,” Rossi said. “There was so much blood (Jaxon’s) brain had swollen and pushed up against the other side of his head … They cut my son’s head open. They couldn’t save him.”
In the days and weeks that followed, the family said no one provided them with Jaxon’s medical records or reached out to offer mental health support or counselling. The couple had to ask their family doctor to obtain documents revealing Jaxon’s cause of death — hematoma — they told Global News.
“I didn’t know how to deal with grief, I still don’t know,” Glubis said. “But you just think, if something major like this has happened, someone is going to follow up with you.”
“Our medical system is failing. It’s failing us, it’s failing our children and something needs to change,” added Rossi. “What I want to see (is) change, is accountability when mistakes were made.”
Wearing lockets containing Jaxon’s ashes, the couple said they’re speaking out so no parent or child has to go through what they did. They urged doctors to listen, and test, when a parent is adamant that something is wrong.
Jaxon would have turned nine years old on May 6. Rossi and Glubis celebrated his birthday by painting pottery for him and releasing balloons into the sky.
“We know he’s here and his energy is here,” Glubis said. “We try to honour our son in all sorts of different ways, everything from praying for him, to speaking his name and saying good night.”
Rossi described Jaxon as a “smart, caring, remarkable, happy, bubbly, joyful boy,” who wanted to be a YouTuber when he grew up. He loved books, swimming, sleepovers and Roblox.
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up for Jaxon’s family.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 5:06 p.m. PST on Sat. May 28, 2022 to include a late statement from the Fraser Health Authority.