20 Years After Suffering Shaken Baby Syndrome, Corey Chandler Continues His Battle

It’s hard to look at Corey Chandler and not wonder what might have been.

Could he have been a life-saving doctor, an inspirational teacher, an inventor or author?

His adoptive mom, Carolyn Stinnett, certainly has daydreamed over the years, but their reality is very different. Chandler, who turns 21 in July, is wheelchair bound, fed through a tube and nonverbal — all the result of someone’s 10 seconds of violence.

Chandler was just 1 month old when he was violently shaken. It would be at least 24 hours before he was taken to the hospital for treatment; by that time, the damage was substantial and permanent.

“During that first 24 hours after the injury, his brain was swelling,” Stinnett said. “When it gets to the point that it can’t swell anymore because his little head is so small, brain tissue just shears off. It is gone forever.”

The result is Chandler has been forever stuck at 6 months old, his mom said.

According to the National Center on shaken baby sydrome, there are 1,300 reported cases of shaken baby syndrome annually in the United States. About 25% of victims die, while 80% of those who survive have lifelong disabilities.

Corey’s story is known in Blount County and beyond, with media outlets reporting on the tragedy when it happened. Corey’s biological father, David Chandler, served time in prison for what he did to the infant, and later died after serving his sentence and being released. His biological mom, Dawn Michelle Cunningham Chandler, remains in Blount County and has remarried. She served 30 days in jail after pleading guilty to failure to protect a minor from abuse.

No good outcomes

Tom Schlitt, pediatric physical therapist at Blount Memorial Hospital, has seen 15 to 20 cases of shaken baby syndrome over his 29 years in the field. Many are similar to Corey’s.

“The perpetrators are generally young males,” Schlitt said, “in their teens to early 20s. They lose their temper and have no way of venting so they take it out on a defenseless child.”

It is true that early intervention and treatment offer the best outcomes. But as Schlitt explained, violent brain injuries result in orthopedic and neurological issues that can’t be reversed.

“In some cases, the victim is thrown against a wall,” Schlitt said. “The brain shifts from one side of the skull to the other. Blood vessels are torn.”

That type of injury where the brain shifts is called a contrecoup, Schlitt said. And as both Stinnett and Schlitt pointed out, shaken baby syndrome is totally avoidable.

“It’s not like a congenital heart problem or being born with Down syndrome,” Schlitt said. “This can be avoided.”

It occurs because infants are the defenseless victims of shaken baby syndrome, Schlitt said. When older children are abused, their injuries often include broken arms or other bones, he said.

A part of the community

Those who attend Special Olympics here have seen Corey over the years. Just a week or two ago, he participated in the spring sports and received an award. The Colin Award is presented each year to a Special Olympian who stands out in the hearts and minds of others. It was established as a tribute and in remembrance of several Special Olympics athletes and presented by the David and Jan Bemis family in honor of their son, Colin Bemis.

It’s been important to his mom that Corey have experiences like other children. He’s been to 41 states, visited Mount Rushmore and Disney World. Stinnett also has taken him to conferences over the years where she shares his story. The tragedy that happened to Corey was avoidable if only his abuser had exercised some patience and walked away. That’s a teaching moment, she said.

So Stinnett loads him up in her car and off they go, with the wheelchair and other equipment and his medications. She tells his story on stage first and then brings Corey out to meet the crowd.

Not to put him on display or for shock value, this mom explained. It’s to show how this can happen to a child who otherwise has the right to grow up as happy and normal as we are, she said. To show that this can happen.

When people see photographs of Corey, he doesn’t look that much different. And when they see him, some people think he must have been born with his condition. Stinnett clears up any misconceptions.

“There was nothing that was physically wrong with him but in one short month, that all changed forever,” Stinnett said.

“I push him out front and center so when people ask about him I can say ‘He is a survivor of shaken baby syndrome,’” Stinnett said. “We haven’t taken him anywhere that we don’t share his story. If it saves one child from going through this, it’s worth it.”

A decline in health

In the past two years, Corey’s health had declined substantially. He suffered from pneumonia back in 2017 and then again in January 2019. In February, he contracted the viral infection once more along with the flu. He now has been diagnosed with chronic lung disease and previously was diagnosed with cerebral palsy because of his brain injury. Seizures are his norm. Sleep apnea also has developed.

The list of conditions in his medical records also include hip dysplasia, scoliosis, osteoporosis and cortical blindness. He has the use of only his left arm.

While Corey can attend school until he is 22, Stinnett said she is letting him graduate this year because of his setbacks. “I want that memory of him being able to do that,” she said. He attends William Blount but hasn’t physically attended since last December.

Because Corey is a child on TennCare, Stinnett is able to receive 84 hours of health care per week. But in July when he turns 21, that will end. The hours will be reduced to about 30 per week. Corey also will have to get all new doctors because children’s specialists will no longer be available to him. Stinnett said this is a source of much stress and grief.

Corey’s doctors all have treated him his whole life, she said. They know him. They know his tendencies. Complete strangers soon will be in control of his care, his mother said.

However, if she were to put him into a facility, some of her benefits would remain, but Stinnett said she knows Coery gets the best care with her.

Stinnett teaches part time at Pellissippi State Community College. She said it’s sometimes unbelievable that Corey is the same age as her students. She sees how different their lives are.

“They are able to sit in my class and they are able to write an essay,” she said. “And drive cars. When you get to this point in your child’s life, you are thinking about college and where they want to go, what they are going to be. And with something that took less than 10 seconds, all of that was wiped out. You are now looking at the loss of all that potential. Who knows what he could have become?”

This article was originally published by TheDailyTimes.com.

Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.

To learn more about me, please visit my website at www.ScottJuceam.com or you can click here.

Trial Begins For Woman Accused In Shaken Baby Death

The trial has begun for a Massachusetts woman accused in the 2014 murder of a 6-month-old in her care.

Dr. Pallavi Macharla’s trial began Monday in Middlesex Superior Court, where prosecutors said that Ridhima Dhekane died from blunt force trauma or shaken baby syndrome.

“The evidence beyond a reasonable doubt will be that Ridhima Dhekane was murdered with extreme atrocity and cruelty by the very woman who was chosen to protect and care for her,” said Middlesex Assistant District Attorney Katharine Folger.

Macharla, of Burlington, was caring for her neighbor’s daughter on March 27, 2014, when the little girl became unresponsive. Despite efforts to save her, Dhekane was pronounced dead three days later at Boston Children’s Hospital.

The defense said the injuries to Dhekane that may have looked like shaken baby syndrome were actually caused by both the efforts to save her, including nearly an hour of CPR and the machines she was put on for four days after she was likely brain dead.

Prosecutors allege Dhekane was a perfectly healthy baby leading up to that March day and the only explanation is that her babysitter inflicted the fatal injuries.

“The injuries were inflicted, a 6-month-old could not do it to herself,” Folger said.

Defense attorney J.W. Carney said his client plans to take the stand in her own defense.

“I guess the prosecutor wants you to believe that one day Pallavi lost her mind while she was taking care of children, and changed from being the loving, kind, gentle person that everybody knew her as, and she somehow lost her mind,” said Carney. “The government cannot present to you any motive, any motive, for why Pallavi would ever have done this.”

Testimony continues on Tuesday. The trial is expected to last about a month.

This article was originally published by NBCBoston.com.

Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.

To learn more about me, please visit my website at www.ScottJuceam.com or you can click here.

Man’s Girlfriend Violently Shakes Baby

“I told my ex I didn’t want her around my baby…but he didn’t listen until it was too late.”

It’s never easy to meet the woman your husband destroyed your family to be with. 

But as Erica stood across from her ex-husband’s new girlfriend, she realised she was feeling more than simple hatred.

It was fear.

There was something terrifying about Rachel – Erica felt sick at the thought that this woman would soon have access to her son.

“I couldn’t ignore the feeling I had about her,” the US mum first wrote on Love What Matters.

“I didn’t want Wyatt around her.

“The anxiety I experienced crippled me. I couldn’t sleep well at night, eat well, and it was even affecting me at work.”

“He told me he left Wyatt alone with Rachel”

But, thanks to successive court orders granting Erica’s ex visitation rights, she simply had to trust that he would keep their son safe.

She made him promise that Rachel wouldn’t be allowed to look after Wyatt. 

And for a while, it worked…until one day, Erica got the phone call that changed everything.

“I received a phone call that Wyatt had been rushed to hospital because he was ‘breathing funny’,” she said.

“He admitted to me on my way down there, that he left Wyatt alone with Rachel.

“My heart dropped into my stomach.

“I was livid, but my main focus was getting to the hospital to Wyatt.

“Is my baby going to be ok?”

As she walked into the hospital, Erica saw the expressions on the doctor’s faces and knew it wasn’t good.

She crumpled to the floor in shock as she was told Wyatt had had a major brain bleed.

“All I kept asking her is, ‘Is my baby going to be ok?’ ‘He’s going to make it, right?’” she recalled.

“All she could tell me is he was in the best place possible, and they were going to do everything they could.

“The feeling of not knowing whether your child is going to live or die is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.”

“He was not expected to make it”

But things went from bad to worse when Erica was told she couldn’t be with her son as he was rushed into surgery.

Instead, she had to be interviewed by child services as doctors suspected Wyatt’s injuries were not accidental.

“While I was being interviewed I was also trying to pray at the same time,” she said.

“I could not lose my baby boy.

“The doctors advised me that including the brain bleed and fractured skull, Wyatt also had broken ribs and bilateral retinal haemorrhages.

“They told me his injuries were consistent with shaken baby syndrome. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.”

“He was not expected to make it.”

“It made me sick to my stomach”

As the police took over the investigation, Erica discovered that she had been right not to trust Rachel around her son.

The woman had twice been convicted of child abuse – including one instance just 10 days before Wyatt was injured.

“It made me sick to my stomach,” she said.

“My immediate thought was, ‘How come people who sexually abuse children have to register, but people who physically abuse children don’t?’”

“I knew at that moment, I had to make a change in this world.”

“What would Wyatt be like today if he wasn’t shaken?”

But first, Erica had to adjust the impossible reality of being a single parent of a severely disabled child.

Although Wyatt has fought his way through successive brain and eye surgeries – he remains severely developmentally delayed.

He continues to suffer from seizures and is blind in his left eye.

“The thought I struggle most with is, ‘what would Wyatt be like today if he wasn’t shaken?’” she said.

“But I try to not think that way.

“I’m so blessed to have Wyatt here alive. I never take that for granted.

 “He is my miracle boy.

 “And over time I realised I wasn’t going to let what happen to him, happen to another child.”

This article was originally published by KidsSpot.com.

Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.

To learn more about me, please visit my website at www.ScottJuceam.com or you can click here.