ALIVE FOR 5 HOURS
By Carol Matroo
March 14, 2014 – newsday.co.tt
BABY Simeon lived for five hours after he was delivered from his mother’s womb in a Caesari an section surgery at Mt Hope Women’s Hospital on March 1. However, he bled to death from a cut to his head sustained during his mother, Quelly Ann Cottle’s surgery, a laceration that was deep enough to penetrate the brain tissue.
Sources said the team of doctors, in a panic, failed to perform surgery on the baby to stop the bleeding, despite pleas for them to do so from the specialist obstetrician who made the laceration to the baby’s head when he cut too deep into Cottle’s womb before removing the baby.
As a team of junior doctors failed to seek the advice of senior doctors on how to stop the bleeding, the baby bled to death as he lay in a cot in the nursery. This was the claim made by a source from the University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine yesterday.
The source said after the baby was born and the obstetrician saw the cut, he referred the baby to a junior paediatric officer who in turn gave the baby to a paediatric surgeon, also a junior doctor, who turned the baby over to a junior neurosurgical doctor.
The source claimed the neurosurgeon decided not to operate on baby Simeon, who continued to bleed from the head wound. “All this time, the specialist doctor who performed the C-Section was begging the RHA staff to perform surgery to save the baby’s life, but everyone was running around and passing the baby off to each other, not wanting to take responsibility in trying to save the baby’s life,” the UWI source claimed.
Contacted yesterday, Cottle said she was unsure of the time lapse when doctors returned her child’s body to her. Cottle was placed under regional anaesthesia for the surgery, which meant while she felt no pain, she would have been awake and aware of her surroundings.
The baby’s father, Emil Millington, said he is unaware of this latest development and asked, “what do we have here then? Murder or manslaughter?”
Millington also said they are expected to receive the result of a second autopsy today. “Somebody from the hospital called and said to come for the report tomorrow. They can’t stand me down anymore, how much more stand down they could give me,” he asked.
Millington said they were advised by their attorney Colin Selvon not to make any funeral arrangements until they get the report and to only do so if they are satisfied with the findings. If they are not satisfied, they should be prepared to have a third autopsy done.
“The hospital offered me counselling, but I told them I don’t need that, I need anger management because I’m becoming more and more angry everyday,” the frustrated father said. Millington said it was a difficult time for the entire family, more so his wife.
“She said when the baby was born, the doctor did not have to do anything with the baby, he was crying on his own. She knew she gave birth to a live baby who died because of carelessness. That is something that will ring through her for the rest of her life,” Millington told Newsday.
It was reported that the doctor, who had only recently received his specialist paediatrician licence and is MRCOG certified, performed the surgery with no consultant present. The UWI source placed the blame for the baby’s death squarely on NCRHA staff present in theatre and not the UWI consultant who was not present.
The baby’s death is now the subject of high level investigations involving internal probes by the NCRHA, the Medical Council and an investigation that will be led by a foreign specialist, the latter probe being ordered by Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan.
The specialist doctor who performed the C-Section has since been sent on leave with basic pay while investigations are ongoing.
The UWI source accused persons within the NCRHA of leaking information to the media in an attempt to cast blame on a UWI-employed lecturer/consultant who was not present at the surgery.
However, the source said the Ministry of Health regulations make it clear that a consultant does not automatically have to be present at a C-Section surgery.
The source said the onus was on the specialist doctor to oversee the surgery while the consultant was there only in an advisory capacity. He said persons within the RHA have sought to paint UWI and its Department of Medical Sciences as being laws unto themselves.