The Baldwin family of Wales ushered in the New Year joyously celebrating together, even though 13-year-old Peter was under the weather. Mom Beth initially suspected the flu, but it turned out to be so much worse than that.
Beth thought Peter was sicker than he should be for having the flu, so she made an appointment with their physician before the holiday. Peter was diagnosed with a chest infection and given antibiotics. But his condition didn’t improve.
In fact, Peter’s health grew worse. Since they’d already visited their doctor, Beth called her own mom for advice. By the time she arrived, Peter’s grandma insisted Beth call for an ambulance, his condition was so grave.
While Peter had already been examined by a medical practitioner, it was an emergency responder who accurately diagnosed Peter’s underlying condition that had made his situation so severe. But by then, it was too late.
“A first responder arrived at our house and one of the first things he did after giving Peter oxygen was prick Peter’s finger for a blood test. Within 30 seconds of coming, he had diagnosed him as having type 1 diabetes – a condition where the body doesn’t produce enough insulin.”
While Peter did have a chest infection, that wasn’t the culprit. The tween was so incredibly sick because of the undetected diabetes.
For the next few days, the Baldwin family rallied around Peter’s hospital bed while medical professionals tried in vain to keep his organs from shutting down. Beth kept vigil at his bedside, but Peter went into cardiac arrest and underwent emergency surgery.
Afterward, he returned to the intensive care unit. But nothing more could be done. At this point, Peter had suffered enough brain damage that only the machines were keeping him alive.
“I was told he was in a DKA – diabetic ketoacidosis – which is when your body starts to shut down if you haven’t had insulin and it can lead to organ failure.”
After six days, Beth and Stuart’s sweet son who just two weeks before was a vibrantand healthy boy, slipped away. His body had simply given up.
“I felt like I failed him and there was nothing I could do – he’d gone.”
The family was told it wasn’t fair to leave Peter on life support. So they had to make the difficult, tearful decision to unhook him from the machines that were keeping him alive.
“We had to leave the hospital that night without him. My life turned completely upside down and I was heartbroken.”
Once the family crawled out of their dark grief from the unthinkable loss of Peter, they decided to investigate the situation further. Beth now believes that if Peter’s doctor had examined him further, had asked four simple questions, he would’ve diagnosed him with type 1 diabetes and saved his life.
“Peter wasn’t a sickly child and the GP was correct to diagnose him as having a chest infection. But the examination stopped there without exploring if anything else was wrong, even though he was very ill.”
Today, Beth encourages all doctors to ask children battling illness four questions:
Toilet – are you going to the bathroom a lot; are young children suddenly wetting the bed; are infants having heavier diapers?
Thirsty – are you exceptionally thirsty and feel like you can’t quench that thirst?
Tired – do you feel more tired than usual?
Thinner – have you been losing weight?
Reflecting upon Peter’s health before his unnecessary passing, Beth realized that Peter had all of those symptoms. She said that if a child can answer yes to any one of those questions, a simple finger-stick test should be administered to detect if diabetes is the cause. The results are available in less than 60 seconds.
“I’m angry, heartbroken, devastated and distraught that Peter’s life could have been saved.”
Beth insists that her son’s life would’ve been spared if he’d been asked the four Ts. She believes many other children could be saved, too, by posing those four questions.
Now, the Baldwins have made it their mission to raise awareness of type 1 diabetes and how to detect it. They have made their efforts and public education campaign Peter’s legacy.