June 14, 1988
Front page caption: Multimillion$ Lawsuit
Poltergeist star's mother: Blundering doctors killed my daughter.
'Poltergeist' Star's Mother Sues Over Daughter's Death, Claiming:
Blundering Doctors Killed My Girl - She Didn't Have to Die
"My daughter didn't have to die --- and knowing that just adds to my torment!" says the heartbroken mom
of "Poltergeist" star Heather O'Rourke in an exclusive ENQUIRER interview.
"It was a wrong diagnosis that led to her death. It was all needless! I'm still in agony over this."
In late May, Heather's mom Kathleen files a suit against a California hospital charging that doctors
there wrongly diagnosed Heather as having a chronic intestinal inflammation --- when in reality she was
suffering from a deadly blockage that was present since birth. The hospital insists Heather recieved proper
Heather --- who sent chills up moviegoers' spines with her eerie cry "They're Heeere!"--- died suddenly
following emergency surgery on February 1 at the age 12.
For the next few weeks, Kathleen was plunged into unspeakable grief.
"I felt dead myself," she said. "I would stare at pictures of Heather and think to myself,
'My baby is gone --- my baby is gone!'
"Then about three weeks after Heather's death, it all crystallized in my mind. I remembered the doctors
who operated on Heather had told me they were trying to save her life from a blocked intestine.
"And then I remembered that the doctors at another hospital, a year earlier, had said she had Crohn's disease, a chronic inflammation of the intestine. They had given her medication for it. How could she so
desperately need an operation when the other doctors simply gave her medication?
"Suddenly, it hit me through my grief: 'My little baby didn't have to die. SHE DIDN'T HAVE TO DIE!'
"I contacted lawyers --- and we began investigating.
"Heather was never sick in her life untill January of 1987. At that time she picked up a microscopic parasite.
She was throwing up and had diarrhea. We took her into Kaiser Permanente Hospital in San Diego for tests.
"That's when they diagnosed her with the Crohn's disease and treated her with cortisone. But the records
we've gotten because of my suit show they had misdiagnosed her condition. If they had diagnosed
her blockage, the correct procedure would have been an operation."
A spokeswoman for Kaiser Permanente, Karen Constine, told The ENQUIRER, "We have reviewed the records of Heather O'Rourke and after an extensive study have determined that the treatment she recieved and the care she recieved was entirely appropriate for her case."
A year passed following Heather's treatment at Kaiser.
"On the night before she died, Heather was throwing up," said Kathleen. "The next morning she got up after 8 and said she was going to school. I gave her some toast --- but she coulden't swallow.
She coulden't get it down because her throat was swollen. Then i saw her fingernails had turned blue.
"I phoned a nearby clinic. They said to bring her right in. I told Heather to go get dressed, but she slumped
on the floor. That's when i called the paramedics.
"When they arrived, they asked how she was feeling, and she said 'So-so.' She never really complained.
They have her oxygen and she said 'I don't need it.' But they said. 'Yes, you do.'
"As they were putting her on the strecher,s he threw up, I wiped her mouth and she said 'I'm sorry, Mama.'
I said, "That's all right. I love you.' Then she said, 'I love you, too.'
"That was the last thing she said to me. I remember those big blue eyes. She was nervous --- maybe
frightened. I'll never know for sure.
"They put her in the back of the ambulance, and I got into the front. I knew something serious was
wrong by the way they were working on her. She had suffered cardiac arrest.
"We went to a local hosptial, and they helicoptered her to Children's Hospital and Health Center.
Each minute seemed endless. At the second hospital I was just numb --- in a daze.
"They operated for an acute intestinal blockage. Afterward, I was at her side --- telling her over and over
again how much she meant to me. I wanted her to fight for her life. I looked down at my baby and cried.
"My baby was hooked up to all these machines with doctors and nurses huddled around. Finally, they told me
the end had come. I looked for the last time at Heather. She seemed so peaceful and calm --- so angelic.
"Only hours before, we had been home. She'd been trying to convince me she was all right to go to school.
It was all so quick, so fast.
"Why Heather? Why my baby?"
Kathleen could collect millions from the lawsuit, but she declared "I know no amount of money will bring
my daughter back.
"At least she had 12 happy years and enjoyed wonderful success in her short life. I'll never forget my
smiling, wonderful Heather."
TRAGIC: Heather O'Rourke's casket is carried by mourners.
"I LOVE YOU," were Heather's last words to her mom.
GRIEF-STRICKEN Kathleen O'Rourke is comforted as she mourns over her 12-year-old daughter Heather's grave.
She died in February.