Medicine: Mother's Quest

Looking into a child's death

One June morning three years ago, Rebecca Vadala, 12½, woke up complaining of severe headache. Her mother was not too concerned; Becky had had headaches six months before, and the neurologist had assured her that headaches are not uncommon during puberty. But by evening the child was having convulsions and had lost consciousness temporarily. She was rushed to nearby Baptist Hospital of Miami, where a neurologist performed a lumbar puncture, inserting a needle between vertebrae in the lower back to get a sample of cerebrospinal fluid. Within an hour Becky went into cardiac and respiratory arrest....

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