Dad: My Baby ODed on Fentanyl at Public Park

10-month-old now OK; San Francisco city officials, media trying to confirm exactly what happened
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 2, 2022 12:34 PM CST
Dad: My Baby ODed on Fentanyl at Public Park
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/sebastianosecondi)

A nanny's trip this week to a Bay Area public park with 10-month-old twins in her care turned terrifying, with the family and local authorities sharing that one of the boys was exposed to fentanyl during their visit. Wendy Marroqui tells NBC Bay Area that she took Senna and Antun Matkovic to San Francisco's Moscone Park on Tuesday afternoon, and that the boys were cheerfully playing when she noticed something wrong with Senna, who seemed to be losing consciousness. "I shake him and I'm like, 'Something's wrong," she says. Ivan Matkovic, the boys' dad, tells the San Francisco Chronicle he was working at home when he got a call from Marroqui, who told him Senna wasn't breathing well, was "turning blue," and that she was about to call 911 and administer CPR.

Matkovic rushed to the park, as did paramedics, one of whom administered Narcan, a treatment for drug overdoses, to his motionless son, according to Matkovic. The dad says after that, Senna started breathing and crying. The baby was taken to Sutter Health's CPMC hospital, which told Matkovic that his son had had fentanyl in his system. The family was able to bring Senna home around midnight. San Francisco officials on Thursday confirmed to SFGate that a 10-month-old male baby had indeed been exposed to fentanyl, though they weren't able to confirm that the exposure happened in the park, nor that it brought on his medical emergency. A local fire department rep verified that medics who responded to the report of a pediatric patient in cardiac arrest administered "life-saving measures," per SFGate, though he didn't cite Narcan specifically.

Matkovic provided a version of Senna's toxicology report to both the Chronicle and SFGate that listed a fentanyl OD and subsequent administering of Narcan; SFGate says the report was redacted, and the Chronicle is still trying to verify the report's authenticity, which is challenging due to patient privacy laws. Meanwhile, Marroqui told Matkovic that before the boy fell ill, he'd been crawling in the grass and putting leaves in his mouth. The San Francisco Police Department says it did a sweep of the park, but it notes in a statement that officers "did not locate any evidence of drugs and/or drug paraphernalia," per SFGate. Medical experts tell the Chronicle that although a baby ODing at a public park like this is "very rare," "unlikely," and "astonishing," it is within the realm of possibility.

"I have not otherwise personally heard of a public exposure like this," clinical toxicologist Willie Eggleston tells the paper. But "is it possible someone dropped a tablet containing fentanyl on the grass and a kid picked it up and ate it? That doesn't sound implausible to me." A national study shows that, of 25 cases of accidental child exposures to fentanyl between 2004 and 2013, 12 have been fatal. As of Wednesday, Matkovic said Senna was doing OK, though he and his wife were shaken up by the incident. "I'm frankly ignorant to the fentanyl problem," he tells the Chronicle. "I just wanted to let people know that, along with coyotes and RSV and COVID, this is another thing to add to your checklist of things that you're looking out for, because we weren't." (Read more fentanyl stories.)

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