Jake Tapper Reveals His Daughter 'Almost Died' from Appendicitis After Having Been Misdiagnosed

"Appendicitis doesn't always present a standard way, which means that this specific misdiagnosis happens too often and sometimes to far more tragic results," Tapper said

AUSTIN, TEXAS - MARCH 10: Jake Tapper speaks during the 'CNN Democratic Town Hall' at ACL Live at The Moody Theater during the 2019 SXSW Conference And Festival on March 10, 2019 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Gary Miller/FilmMagic)
Photo: Gary Miller/FilmMagic

Jake Tapper revealed his 15-year-old daughter Alice had been near-fatally misdiagnosed around Thanksgiving last year.

In both an opinion piece written by Alice and a short segment on CNN, the family shared the tumultuous days after Alice's appendicitis misdiagnosis and discussed spreading awareness about the issue, which happens more often than people think.

"I unfortunately know all too well about the cost of misdiagnosis," Tapper said introducing his segment on CNN. "About a year ago, my then 14-year-old daughter Alice almost died as a result."

He added, "Appendicitis doesn't always present a standard way, which means that this specific misdiagnosis happens too often and sometimes to far more tragic results."

Alice said she was hospitalized for stomach pain, but the doctors immediately ruled out appendicitis after she told them that she experienced pain throughout her abdomen instead of just one area and was able to jump (barely an inch) off the ground. The doctors decided that she had a viral infection instead, Alice said.

"I said, 'Why don't you just give her a sonogram?' " Jennifer Tapper said in an interview. "You know she has just so much going on down there. She's in so much pain, let's just see what it is cause we don't know, and they looked at me, and the doctor said that data's not needed."

The Tapper family said they also asked for antibiotics but doctors said it "could do more harm than good," according to Alice. Alice's condition got worse over the next three days at the hospital; her skin started turning a pale green, and the pain in her abdomen got much worse.

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta asked the Tappers if they "really thought Alice might die," to which Jennifer responded, "I absolutely don't like to think that she could've died, but 100 percent I was starting to think…"

Jake eventually got a call into the hospital administrator, and his daughter was able to get an abdominal X-ray, which showed that her appendix had been punctured, and toxic fluid was seeping out and poisoning her other internal organs.

Alice said her recovery took longer than normal because of all the toxic fluid that had leaked out of her appendix in the days following her misdiagnosis. She had to undergo surgery for two laparoscopic drains and got her appendix out 12 weeks later.

"I had lost so much weight from being hospitalized that I was just struggling to eat and [be] able to function," Alice said in the CNN interview. "I had trouble going to school. I would get so tired and make my mom pick me up early."

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Alice noted in her opinion piece that other children have died from a similar misdiagnosis – including a 5-year-old girl from England named Elspeth Moore, and she hopes her story will help others.

"I wish it never happened to me obviously, but it was a very important learning experience to me. I want other kids to know that they need to advocate for themselves," she said.

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