Trial Set in Case of Toddler Wrongly Declared Dead

A medical malpractice lawsuit filed by the family of an Orange County girl who was revived after doctors allegedly declared her dead in 2003 is scheduled to go to trial on Monday.

Mackayla Jespersen was 20 months old when she fell into a swimming pool at her family's Fullerton home on Nov. 7, 2003. The lawsuit claims the girl, now 6, suffered permanent brain damage after doctors at Anaheim Memorial Medical Center wrongly pronounced her dead and disconnected her breathing tube.

More than an hour later, a police detective conducting a routine investigation noticed her chest was moving and summoned doctors, who were able to revive the child.

She later was transferred to Children's Hospital of Orange County.

Named in the suit, which was filed in Orange County Superior Court, are Anaheim Memorial and Dr. Richard Oxman. Calls to Oxman and hospital officials were not immediately returned Monday.

The lawsuit is seeking punitive damages. The girl's mother, Melissa Jespersen, said she hopes a judge and jury will award enough money to help take care of her daughter.

"If she needs a piece of equipment, she shouldn't have to worry about how to get it or how she is going to get it," she said. "These things are not covered by insurance. We're not able to have it."