LOS ANGELES, California — A Watts, California woman whose child died shortly after being born prematurely says she's being forced to relive the trauma after discovering the hospital who treated her had the wrong infant cremated.
Creshawna Terrell, 28, thought she had been mourning her son Jayceon Jackson's ashes until earlier this month, when staff at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in unincorporated West Carson called her to inform her the wrong baby had been cremated.
"I feel incomplete without my son. To know he’s not here, this is —" Terrell said, motioning to the heart-shaped urn that she thought had contained his remains "— it has his name on it: "Forever in my heart, King Jayceon."
Terrell was five months pregnant when she had a slip and fall injury in May. She said she went to the hospital to make sure the baby was OK.
Terrell said the doctors sent her home, but a short time later she began bleeding and went back. She said she was assured everything was fine, but about a week later she went into labor and was rushed into surgery at Harbor-UCLA.
When she woke up, she found out her son didn't make it.
"It's like losing your own life," Terrell said. "There's no real way to describe the feeling of losing a child."
Terrell said she chose to cremate Jayceon so he could always be with her and near his family. She got an urn with his name engraved on it, which she said she carried around as part of her healing process.
So her world was shattered when she got a call from the hospital on Feb. 4.
"They had found a baby in the morgue and they had done some tissue testing, and it matched my DNA," she told KTLA.
Someone at the hospital had apparently given the wrong baby to the mortuary, and Jayceon was still in the morgue. She had to go view his remains.
"It feels like a whole 'nother loss of a whole 'nother child — seeing my son in that morgue, holding him and he's rotted and deteriorating," she said. "He just looked like they just pulled him out of a grave. He looked like he was just rotten fruit."
Terrell has retained a medical malpractice attorney, Neil Howard, to investigate her rights and determine exactly how she wound up with the wrong remains in hopes of preventing it from happening to someone else.
Howard called the case "shocking" and "inexcusable."
"It would only happen from gross negligence," he said. "It seems to me that when you put your baggage on an airline, they take better precautions to make sure you get your baggage when you get off the plane than a hospital will give you when your baby passes away. It doesn't make any sense to me."
Terrell said she hopes to connect with the parents of the infant whose remains she is in possession of so that the ashes can rest with the rightful family and they can be given closure.
And she wants the same for her family.
"I just want my son to be properly buried so he can be back with me and back home with his family," Terrell said. "I just want my son properly laid to rest."
Officials at Harbor-UCLA said they were unable to comment on the case, citing privacy laws.