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Girl dies after 2006 misdiagnosis

Christine Grimard
Northern News Services
Published Monday, August 20, 2007

COLVILLE LAKE - The father of a child who died of meningitis is looking for answers.

Two-year-old Ashley Kochon died Aug. 12 of medical complications resulting from a bout with meningitis in February 2006. Her funeral was held on Aug. 17.

"There's a lot of questions that need to be answered," said Ashley's father Wilbert Kochon.

When six-month-old Ashley fell ill in February 2006, a nurse consulted by phone by the girl's parents told them that Ashley's high fever was likely caused by teething. Wilbert Kochon said it wasn't until they sought medical help a second time that she was sent to Edmonton where she was diagnosed with meningitis.

"They said she could die anytime," said Kochon.

Ashley stayed in the hospital until July 2006 when she was brought home to be with her family.

"Seeing her suffer every day was hard," said Kochon. "We took care of her ourselves, she hated the hospital. Every time she got sick or a fever I would hold her and she would get better."

Kochon was away at a festival at the time Ashley died. He said she likely waited for him to be away to leave.

"She's at peace now, with a little smile on her face," he said. "A little angel."

This is the second child Wilbert and his wife Dora have lost. Their son Jordan died 10 years ago just before he turned six after a Ski-doo accident.

Norman Yakeleya, MLA for Sahtu, said he is giving the family time to grieve before he joins Kochon is looking for answers about the circumstances of Ashley's death.

"There's a number of questions that need to be discussed later on," said Yakeleya. "Time needs to be given to the mother and father for the grieving process."

Yakeleya is concerned with the lack of health care in smaller communities.

"We have to bring up the standards of health care to any other community like Yellowknife," said Yakeleya. "These people deserve better, they deserve to have that kind of health care. Someone has to be held accountable."

Kochon is also looking for answers regarding meningitis vaccinations. He said that Ashley got sick shortly after her shot.

Dr. Andre Corriveau, chief medical officer for the NWT, said it is not possible to get the disease from the vaccine.

However, he said the vaccine does not protect against every strain of meningitis because there are many types of bacteria causing the disease they do not have vaccines for.

Vaccinations against meningitis have been given to infants in the region for the last four years, after an outbreak in the Sahtu region.