Today in the court of NSW, the parents of Gloria Sam were convicted of manslaughter

A jury deemed them to be sentenced to a minimum of 6 years for the father (Thomas Sam) and 4 years for the mother (Manju Sam).

This story came to the attention of the public earlier this year, when we heard about the tragic death of Gloria Sam aged 9 months, from complications as a result of an allergic skin condition, eczema.

Gloria died as a result of a lack of conventional treatment for eczema, a skin disorder that makes the skin dry and itchy and when scratched, weep and bleed. The common treatment is hydrocortisone cream for mild cases but in severe cases, oral steroids in a tablet form are prescribed. As a result of the associated wheeping with severe cases of eczema, dehydration is often a problem, with patients losing large amounts of fluids.

I myself suffer from eczema and have had to take oral steroids on occasion. Eczema has a genetic link and accordingly, my mum suffered attacks so debilitating that she was airlifted from Papua New Guinea in the late 60s to Australia and spent extensive time in hospital, coated in hydrocortisone creme and wrapped in plastic to restore her fluids. She came very close to dying.

My Mum was advised to soak in baths of salt water, and these days pine tar is also touted, but in my experience none of these work. I have been tested for allergies to strawberries, wheat, the usual suspects, but it appears my IgE response is to blame. I even visited a naturopath, who told me to stop eating dairy. Guess what? No change.

During the hearing for this case there was evidence presented from observers on a Qantas flight on which Gloria was a passenger, describing her cries for lengthy periods, indicative of a serious problem. One passenger described her covered in red blotches and appearing as if she were burned.

Fortunately, I have not had a flare of eczema of late but I know when I do, I have conventional medicine to relieve my pain, at least temporarily. However, when I am out of Diprosone (the commonly prescribed cortisone cream) I am in much pain. The worst thing is scratching in your sleep and waking up with bloodied bedding not knowing what you did. This is why my Mum often slept with gloves to avoid tearing her already tender skin away. Years of steroid application also increase the likelihood that your skin becomes thinner and more prone to breakage.

Being the beast that a hypersensitivity disorder is, I need to manage it with lots of sleep, not too much stress and avoiding late nights. These things are not always easy to correct. But as an adult, I make the decision about when and where I receive treatment.

Unfortunately, Gloria did not have that option.

Subscribe to comments Comment | Trackback |
Post Tags: , , , , ,

Browse Timeline