March 10, 2019

Originally posted to Facebook

This is the story about a baby, Emmitt Tailer Goss. He died days after his circumcision at Forsyth Medical Center, Winston-Salem, North Carolina due to infection after circumcision. This story was written by his mother, Dakota Ellis.

Intaction understands this story is very painful to the family, and we do not wish to cause them further distress. However it is critical that future parents in America have this information so that they can be aware of the risks of circumcision.  To that end we hope that this tragedy can serve a greater purpose.


To those that want to hear Emmitt’s full story, Here it is.

circumcision death infection Forsyth Medical Center

Baby Emmitt Goss with his parents

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Baby Emmitt is in a fight for his life

“I lost my son, I lost everything. In a moment, everything had changed.”

On Monday, February 25th, 2019 I was in labor and admitted into Forsyth Medical Center. Literally hours away from giving birth to my first child. I was in labor all day that day. On Tuesday, February 26th, 2019 at 8:22pm after 2 hours of pushing I welcomed a perfect little boy in this world. Emmitt Tailer Goss. 7lbs 10.5 oz and 21 ½ inches long. He looked just like his father. Everything was perfectly normal, except he was Meconium Stained. Other than this, everything was perfectly normal. All my tests were negative for any types of diseases and infections. Emmitt’s father’s name is also Dakota. That night, Dakota and I didn’t allow anyone to touch or hold Emmitt but us and his nurses. We were being very precautious about things. On Thursday, February 28th, 2019 he had his circumcision.

We started seeing signs that night that our little one wasn’t acting quite right. We asked nurses and everyone assured us it was normal things for newborns to be doing. His lips would turn a purplish tint when he would breastfeed. They told us some babies do this. His lips started getting a “chapped” look. They told us that this was from him sucking so hard to get colostrum and that this is normal. He wouldn’t really “cry”. He would lightly whimper. He wanted to do nothing but sleep and didn’t have an interest in eating. All of which we were reassured that this was just normal newborn activity. I am a first-time mom, I had no idea.

They decided that since both Emmitt and I were doing well, that we would be discharged around noon that same day. I was so scared. We went home, and things were about the same. They told us he was slightly jaundice to follow up on Friday March 1st, 2019 with a pediatrician. So, on Friday, we went. He had lost 9% of his total body weight. They recommended us trying formula instead of breastfeeding to get his weight up and give me time to get my milk supply up.

They scheduled us to come back on Monday March 4th, 2019 for a weight check to be on the safe side. So, we go home, and throughout the next two days things started to appear worse in Emmitt. But we had our mind set on “The nurses and Doctors are saying he’s normal”. Sunday night, I was feeding him a bottle and he stopped breathing. It scared me to death. I thought maybe I had him laying too far back and maybe he got strangled on formula. So, I turned him over and patted his back until he gasped and started breathing within a second or two. This was my biggest scare so far. I handed him over to Dakota and he laid him on his chest and rubbed his back until he went to sleep. We barely slept that night and went on to the pediatrician the next morning.

We went to the pediatrician the next morning, and she sent us straight to Brenner’s Children’s Hospital in Winston Salem. We were in a room in the Emergency Department within 5-10 minutes of being there. The nurses came in and hooked him up to all of these different machines. Within 2 minutes of being hooked up to all of these machines, he desat and his oxygen dropped to 65 and he couldn’t self-recover. They begged him to get him back to being stable. They hooked him up to oxygen as well at this point. He had several other desalts throughout the night. They started running tests and within an hour, multiple doctors came into the room and explained to us that our son was sick and by his bloodwork he was fighting some sort of infection. They explained they didn’t know what it was yet, but they were working on figuring that out and was already treating him with several antibiotics.

We sat most of the night worrying what would happen to our son. A few hours later the doctor came back in and said that his liver enzymes were over 3,000 and needed to be between a 40 and a 60. This showed that the infection had spread to most of his body, skin, blood, and other organs, but in order to see if it had spread to his brain, they would need to do a spinal tap. This would tell us more. So, they did that, and we waited for the results. After waiting, they had come back in to let me know that it has spread into his brain. At this point, they would do everything that they can. They told us we were going to be moved to the PICU and be admitted for at least two weeks at this point possibly longer once they knew what we were working with. They were scared because he was 6 days old. His immune system wasn’t developed yet. Once in PICU they put in an umbilical line to be able to give him his treatment because every IV they tried on him, his veins would blow.

circumcision death Forsyth Medical Center infection

Desperate measures to save baby Emmitt after circumcision

Later on, we laid down in his room and fell asleep for about 2 hours. The infectious disease doctor came in and I woke up. I woke up Dakota and we spoke to the doctor. He proceeded to tell us that our son has HSV 1 (Herpes Simplex Virus). He could’ve caught this from anywhere. Now the disease is so bad that you can catch it from a touch, you don’t have to kiss the baby for them to get it. That’s scary. You try to protect your baby from everything they can yet can’t. He proceeded to let us know that the survival rate is very low. Emmitt has been diagnosed with Disseminating HSV 1. Which means it is throughout his body and brain, the worst type you can get.

At this point, we are overwhelmed. Exactly one week ago, I brought this child into this world. Now I’m being told he may die. They told us to go home and get some things because we weren’t going anywhere. While we were at home packing, I got a phone call that they were moving him down to NICU so they could better care for our baby. We hurried and got back to the hospital. Our child looked so pitiful. It was hard to watch. Every time he desat, he looked normal. He didn’t cry, he just laid there. It made me think to myself, how many times was he in distress the 3 days he was home with us and we didn’t even know it? All the symptoms seemed normal. Each one of them. He was in NICU for several days, the first days he was pretty bad off.

Then on Thursday March 7th, 2019 I woke up and called to check on him and they told us all of his levels that had shot up in the previous days had gotten significantly better. His AST Level is what shows how the infection is affecting all of his organs as a whole. This level should be between 50-100. 100 being very high. This level was at a 4,000 on his worst day and had dropped to 2,500 overnight. His ALT Level is what shows us how the infection is affecting his liver in itself. This level was around 1,000 in the beginning. It dropped around 800 at one point and bloodwork showed on this day it was in the 600’s. These levels were showing major improvement from where we were. Then, his platelet count. This is something we were worried about because this is his clotting factors. This is what can make him potentially bleed out if not treated properly. This level needs to be around 150,000. It was around 47,000 on his worst day so far and it had raised to 107,000 overnight. It was a relief knowing these levels were doing something. God was working in the background.

The next day, he had yet another good day. His levels hadn’t changed much, and nurses were surprised at his counts. It seemed to us that our baby was fighting this. The nurse practitioner had explained they had tried to do a Picline and failed. That they would need to eventually surgically place a Broviac Central Line. We were fully okay with this even though our baby would need to be put to sleep and intubated for this procedure. They didn’t have time on Friday to do the surgery. So, the surgeon called me around 11:00pm on Friday to inform me that she would be doing the operation on Saturday morning sometime.

We woke up on Saturday March 9th, 2019 and went over to the hospital and waited until the surgery was completed. We saw our baby laying there, not fully awake yet. He opened his eyes a few times, but you could tell he was still out of it. The nurse informed us they wanted him to rest so he wouldn’t have to fight so hard to fight off this infection. We agreed so we told the nurse we had family coming to visit that we were going to step out for a few hours and would be back to stay most of the night with him, like we always did. She said that was fine.

Two hours later I received a phone call that things were not good and that my baby was very sick, and his blood pressure was scarcely low, and they had tried the highest dose of medication they could give, and it wasn’t working. They had said both his umbilical line and his scalp IV had come out, and they only had the Central Line and it wasn’t giving them enough access to be able to get him all the things he needed. His treatment, blood pressure medicines, and blood products to help his blood pressure. They were saying they needed to do emergency surgery to place a different type of Central Line to be able to get him what he needed since they couldn’t get any IV’s in him due to his veins constantly blowing each time.

So, they told us to spend a few moments with Emmitt before the surgery started. So that we did. I held his hand and I told him everything was going to be okay. We waited in the waiting room for a little bit. Then the nurse came and told us to come to a private room. Our family waited in the waiting room. The nurse told us that things were looking worse for Emmitt and they didn’t think he would pull through the surgery because his heart rate kept dropping and without chest compressions, he did not have a heartbeat. She said they were going to keep trying. I told her to do everything she could. She promised me she would. About 10 minutes later she came back and said that she wanted us to go to Emmitt. She made the comment, “I would rather his last memory be you holding him rather than one of my doctors pressing on his chest.” So, we went to him. We stood there for the longest time and then he stopped breathing, so she wrapped him up and gave him to Dakota. Dakota held him and just cried. He was our son. Our everything. We had just lost him.

circumcision death Forsyth Medical Center Emmitt Goss

Family saying goodbye

Dakota then let me hold him and Dakota held me in his lap. We just balled like babies. We didn’t understand why. We sat there forever it felt like, then we said we needed to go tell our family. The nurses put them all in the room we were previously in. We sat Emmitt down and went into the room to let them know we had lost him. Tears filled the room. I asked if they would like to see him. Everyone did. So, we went back, and Dakota and I cleaned all the blood off of his lifeless body. It killed me as Dakota swaddled our baby to take him to our family. The nurse brought us a light baby blue hand crocheted hat to place on his head. I walked down the hall with tears in my eyes. I opened the door, with my baby in my arms and once again everyone lost it. We let everyone hold him for the last time. It was truly the hardest thing I had done so far.

It’s sad, I am 20 and my fiancé is 22. We gave birth to this perfect human less than 2 weeks ago. We didn’t have but 3 days with him outside of the hospital before he went to heaven. It truly broke our heart. We made our siblings Aunts and Uncles for the first time, we made our parents Grandparents for the first time, and for this to happen. This happened just yesterday, and it keeps getting harder and harder on us. I know days to come will be harder as well. Monday, March 11th, 2019 was his due date. That is tomorrow. Like I said, each day will be harder for a while. On his due date, we have the biggest day. We have to go pick up a birth certificate for Emmitt and go to the funeral home to make arrangements. I lost my son, I lost everything. In a moment, everything had changed.

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Emmitt’s memento’s of a future that was not to be