An autopsy released Friday shows that blood clots in the lungs caused the death of a 16-year-old girl earlier this year after she was found unconscious in Jackson County’s juvenile detention center.
By TONY RIZZO
The Kansas City Star
The death of Kathia Casseus was ruled natural.
But the report also noted that a birth control patch was on her arm at the time of her death in February, and such patches are known to increase the risk of developing clots.
An attorney for Kathia’s family said her mother was unaware she had been prescribed the patch while she was in the “care, custody and control” of juvenile court authorities.
“Why is an incarcerated juvenile being provided birth control?” attorney Dan DeFeo asked Friday. “That is perplexing to the family.”
DeFeo said Kathia had been under Jackson County Family Court supervision since last August and was prescribed the patch in November, according to medical records obtained by her family after her death. She had been in two in-patient treatment facilities before being placed in the detention center on Feb. 10, he said.
Jackson County Family Court officials referred any questions about the report to the Missouri attorney general’s office, which had no comment. Representatives of the treatment facilities said they could not talk about patient information.
Kathia died on Feb. 25 after she was found unresponsive and not breathing and rushed to Children’s Mercy Hospital.
According to a Kansas City police report, staff at the detention facility reported that earlier that day Kathia fell to the floor and kept repeating that she couldn’t breathe.
She told staff that she was dizzy, hot and couldn’t walk. Two staffers helped carry her to a holding cell. She was then able to walk on her own to get a drink from a water fountain, according to the report.
Detention center employees told police that she walked without difficulty into a smaller room, but still complained about being hot and not feeling well.
A staff member said a message was left with the detention center’s on-call nurse. About 90 minutes after the girl first started showing problems, the staff noticed she was quiet and then discovered that she was not breathing.
They began CPR and called an ambulance, but she was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Family court officials said at the time that Kathia had been checked on six times before she was found unresponsive, but the police report did not mention any checks during that time.
According to the autopsy report signed by Deputy Medical Examiner Diane C. Peterson, the clots described in the report “indicated a range in age from less than 72 hours to more than three weeks.”
DeFeo said in February that she had no known health problems.
The autopsy report noted the placement of an “Ortho Evra” patch on her upper right arm.
Information on the product’s website mentions that in addition to common side effects, “serious risks, which can be life threatening include, blood clots, stroke and heart attacks, and are increased when you smoke cigarettes, especially if you are over 35.”
In the autopsy report, it was noted that Kathia did smoke.
The patch is designed to administer hormones, including estrogen, through the skin. According to the autopsy report, estrogen is known to increase the risk of clot development by increasing the clotting ability of blood.
“When one concurrently takes birth control and smokes tobacco, as in the decedent, this risk is increased,” the autopsy report notes.
It also mentions that a lack of physical activity could contribute to clot formation.
Because she was a resident of a detention facility, “The amount of exercise and general day-to-day movement she was able to achieve may have been decreased from her usual level of activity,” according to the report.
To reach Tony Rizzo, call 816-234-4435 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.