Tennessee parents: Toddler near kidney failure after doctor sent her home


A Tennessee couple is sending a warning to parents Thursday after their baby girl was near kidney failure following a hospital visit.

Columbia parents said doctors initially sent them home after treating their 13-month-old for severe diarrhea. Days later, the toddler ended up on the brink of kidney failure.

Their other daughter Emily is happy and healthy, but the couple's 13-month-old daughter Terra has spent nearly a week at Vanderbilt’s Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital.

"It's scary," father Seneca Cantrell said. "She laid up their first couple of days like she was just like she was a vegetable. You know she couldn't talk or play."

Last week, Terra got severe diarrhea so her parents took her to Maury Regional Hospital.

“They did an x-ray of her chest,” Lambert said. "Virus swabs came back negative, said it was normal and sent her home."

Terra’s parents followed up with a visit to their pediatrician and a trip to Williamson Medical Center.

"They ran more blood work," Melinda Lambert said. "Blood platelets were dropping. Her hemoglobin was dropping. Her kidney function was starting to fail on her, which were symptom of HUS which is caused by E. coli."

Dr. William Schaffner isn't treating Terra but is familiar with Hemolytic uremic syndrome or HUS, which is caused by a dangerous strain of E.coli bacteria

"One of the things they can cause is the blood elements," Schaffner said. "Red blood cells that carry the oxygen can lyse. When the products of that lysis attack the kidney in the kidney and other organs can be damaged."

Terra is improving, but her mother wants to warn other parents.

"If it's not caught within four days, she had to have a blood transfusion,” Lambert said. "So if it's not caught it can become deadly."

That's because certain strains of E. coli are more aggressive than others, especially in elderly and young patients.

"These illnesses can be a little tricky because they often don't have fever," Schaffner said. "For the most part, the child develops diarrhea and that's the time to call the doctor."

Lambert and her fiancé said if their daughter continues to improve, they may be able to take her home this weekend.

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