Dennis Quaid, Health Activist
Actor Dennis Quaid takes on medical errors – and life with twins.
Dennis Quaid in The Express continued...
Quaid plays Davis’s hard-driving coach, toughest critic, and surrogate
father, who never stops pushing the All-American athlete to go for greatness
despite the color barriers of that time. But the movie is about far more than
“It’s about grace: living your life gracefully and dying gracefully. But
it’s also about race and race relations in this country,” Quaid explains. Even
though the movie is set in 1959, he adds, the messages it sends remain powerful
today. Davis became an important figure in the burgeoning civil rights
The Quaid Foundation
Also in May, Quaid joined other A-list celebrities in Beverly Hills to help
launch Stand Up 2 Cancer, an entertainment industry-backed initiative that aims
to speed up and fund research into the disease. A star-packed televised event
will air on network channels ABC, NBC, and CBS on Sept. 5. While he hasn’t had
any family members with cancer, Quaid, whose brother is actor Randy Quaid, says
he’s had a half-dozen friends face the disease, beginning with a seventh-grade
But most of his health activism is focused squarely on The Quaid Foundation,
with its mission of minimizing medical mistakes such as the terrifying error
involving the twins. They were lucky to survive. Dennis and Kimberly are all
too aware that a similar heparin overdose killed three children in an
Indianapolis hospital a year before.
The Quaid Twins’ Overdose
When they were just 11 days old, T. Boone and Zoe developed staph infections
and had to be hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, as
the world now knows. Because of human error and five missed opportunities to
verify the dosage, Quaid says, the twins were given 1,000 times the recommended
dose of heparin, a blood thinner routinely given to prevent clots from forming
in intravenous medication lines.
The night the twins were given the incorrect dose, Kimberly recalls she had
a “premonition” something was wrong after she and Dennis returned from visiting
the hospitalized babies at Cedars-Sinai. Hospital staffers had assured them the
twins were recovering well from the staph infections and told the new parents
to go home. But, Kimberly says, she suddenly felt so anxious that Dennis called
the hospital. They were told everything was fine, the Quaids say, but when they
arrived at the hospital the next morning, they learned of the overdoses.
Kimberly’s gut feeling turned out to be true.
It was 41 hours of hell, Quaid recalls, from the first overdose until the
twins were stabilized. Ever since, the Quaids have been on a fact-finding
mission to discover why medical mistakes happen so frequently and what can be
done. Until his twins were subjected to the overdoses, the problem wasn’t on
his mind, Quaid says. “I’d always gone in and trusted the doctors, [thought]
that I was in a safe place and that everyone knew what they were doing. Since
then, I have found out that medical errors are all too common.”