The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

March 1, 2013

Kisses for Katrina

Toddler dies, pre-existing condition leaves bills

By MARGIE NETZEL - mnetzel@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

ASHTABULA —  Katrina Magdaline Dalton loved the water.

An active 3-year-old, Katrina wanted nothing more than a swimming pool and her father, Troy, wanted nothing more than to give it to her.

Though active and bright, Katrina was no ordinary toddler — she suffered from congenital hyperventilation syndrome — a rare and serious form of central nervous system failure involving sleep apnea. About one in 200,000 live born children have the condition, and there were only about 200 known cases worldwide in 2006.

“We had a ventilator and other equipment for her,” mom Carmen Dalton said. “We did everything we could for her.”

Katrina, who was in foster care by 7 months old and was eventually adopted by the Daltons, died Jan. 25, three months after a “freak accident” with her ventilator left her clinically brain dead.

“The nurse found her blue and unresponsive,” Carmen Dalton said. “When she went into the hospital, she was brain dead. We decided to bring her home for hospice and she held on and died three months and three days later.”

Because Katrina’s condition was considered “pre-existing,” the Daltons could not afford to put her on their insurance plan.

“She was our daughter, so we did what we had to do,” Carmen Dalton said.

To help with those costs, the costs associated with her funeral, and to build a small memorial to Katrina, a benefit, called “Kisses for Katrina,” will be from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Ashtabula Moose Lodge on North Bend Road. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 per child and includes a rigatoni and meatballs dinner, drink, salad, bread and dessert.

The event will include a dee-jay, a Chinese auction, silent auction and cake raffle. Edgewood High School students will serve the meals as a community service project. An arts and crafts table will be available for children.

Tickets available at the door, and carry out meals will be available.

Carmen Dalton said her daughter was almost always happy in spite of her daily struggles, which included a tracheotomy to open her windpipe.

“She was very outgoing and happy — almost always happy,” she said. “For a 3-year-old to touch as many lives as she did, well, that says a lot about her.”

Katrina was given a very poor prognosis when she was just 7 months old, but continued to amaze her doctors and caretakers with her progress.

“The doctors kept saying she wouldn’t thrive, that she wouldn’t be able to communicate or even eat, but she showed everyone different. She ate and even spoke with the trach. She might have been delayed a little bit, but she did everything a typical 3-year-old would have done,” Carmen Dalton said.

Because of that tracheotomy, Katrina wasn’t allowed to be in the water, but all she wanted to do was swim.

“My husband decided to buy her a swimming pool, and she got into it a handful of times late last summer,” she said. “She just wanted to be in that pool so badly.”

The Daltons hope to create a small memorial to Katrina around the pool.

“We miss her every day,” Carmen Dalton said. “She was a very special little girl.”