While test results showed the 3-year-old Simon Hamko was infected with the A/H1N1 virus, it remains unclear what role the swine flu may have played in causing his death.
“We can’t yet pronounce the cause of death, but we’re planning to perform an autopsy so we can do so,” Stefan Engqvist, head physician at Karolinska hospital, told the TT news agency.
Simon’s parents, Rozin and Jack Hamko, first sought care for their son early last week when he started exhibiting symptoms commonly associated with the swine flu, including a high fever, coughing, and vomiting.
“I said that we were losing our son. He hadn’t had any food or water for five days,” father Jack told the Aftonbladet newspaper.
Nevertheless, the doctor at Astrid Lindgren’s who examined Simon said the boy was suffering from a virus which his body could fight off without any treatment.
As the toddler suffered from an undiagnosed muscular disorder, he belonged to one of the risk groups which is supposed to be given priority for the swine flu vaccine, but had not yet received the vaccine.
Swine flu never entered the discussion, however, during the Hamkos’ initial visit to the hospital, where the parents were told to keep giving Simon fluids and sent home.
Simon’s conditioned worsened, however, and late on Friday his parents took him back to Astrid Lindgren’s emergency room where they were required to wait nearly 30 minutes before being seen.
Finally recognizing the severity of Simon’s condition, doctors then took him to intensive care, but were unable to revive him when his heart suddenly stopped in the early hours of Saturday morning.
“He died in our arms,” the boy’s father said to Aftonbladet.
At the time of Simon’s death, doctors said the boy was suffering from pneumonia and myocardial inflammation, but his parents learned the following morning that their son had also tested positive for the swine flu.
On Monday, Karolinska’s Enqvist attributed Simon’s death to unsuccessful treatment.
“He was subject to a treatment which wasn’t successful and later died,” he told TT.
But the child’s parents remain critical of the way their case was handled.
“Those who seek help have to be taken seriously. Doctors can’t react like soulless people who lack any feelings,” said Simon’s father, who remains convinced that his son would have lived if he’d been admitted to hospital upon his first visit.
The doctor who initially treated Simon refused to comment on the matter to Aftonbladet on Sunday.