A cancer-stricken New York City toddler nearly died after New York-Presbyterian Hospital staffers pumped toxic chemotherapy fluids directly into her chest via an improperly placed catheter, a lawsuit claims.

"I started screaming," recalled Arelis Ravelo about seeing her then-18-month-old daughter, Allison, go into cardiac arrest because of the medical mistake.

"The surgeon took out... a needle and put a hole in her chest, sending a fountain of clear liquid a foot high spurting from Allison," Ravelo said. "He was shocked. He said . . . 'What the hell is this?' "

Allison spent a month in a coma, and then another month or so in a recovery hospital, where she suffered multiple seizures and strokes. The girl was temporarily blind, and "every time she was awake, she was screaming hysterically," Ravelo said.

The nightmare occurred after doctors at New York-Presbyterian in Manhattan removed a malignant tumor in November 2008 and said Allison had to undergo chemotherapy via a catheter placed in her chest.

Despite difficulty confirming that the catheter was working, staffers began putting chemo drugs into it, said Steven Epstein, the family's lawyer in the Bronx Supreme Court suit.

But instead of sending the drugs into her veins, the improperly placed catheter funneled chemo into her "chest cavity," said Epstein. "They were drowning her with fluid."