herald

Friday 18 August 2017

If they had done a C-section our baby Orla would be with us today, say tragic parents

Millie with a picture of baby Orla Photo: Damien Eagers
Millie with a picture of baby Orla Photo: Damien Eagers

A Dublin couple have requested a full review into the stillbirth of their daughter, claiming they still have unanswered questions for the hospital.

They have also demanded an apology for the “inhumane” way they were treated following the tragedy.

Millie Aylward gave birth to a stillborn baby girl at 39 weeks, who she named Orla, on April 20, 2004, in the Coombe Hospital.

Less than two weeks before that, Ms Aylward – already a mum to two healthy boys – had presented at the hospital with pains in her stomach.

It was found that the foetal heart rate was down at the time, but a senior doctor at the hospital has since admitted it is not recorded in Ms Aylward’s chart “how much it had dropped, or for how long”.

Heartbroken

Both Millie and her husband, James, remember preparations being made for an emergency Caesarean section on that night, but it was later deemed unnecessary.

“If they had done the C-section then Orla would be with us today,” her heartbroken parents told the Herald.

Instead, they were sent home following two examinations by hospital staff, where it was deemed that the baby’s heart rate was normal – both that night and again the next morning of April 8.

On the night of April 19 the pair arrived at the hospital again, where the baby’s heartbeat could not be found. Millie gave birth naturally to her daughter the next morning.

At the time of the delivery, the umbilical cord was wrapped loosely twice around Orla’s neck. The Aylwards questioned if this had caused her death, but were told it was unlikely.

An autopsy ruled Orla’s death as ‘unexplained’, but her parents are unhappy with this assessment.

In 2014, they met with the former master of the Coombe, Professor Sean Daly, and he sent them a letter following that meeting. In his letter, he stated that the CTG scan recorded a heartbeat that was less than 100 beats per minute for around nine minutes.

“I do believe that the heart rate is likely to have been down for some time. Subsequently, and for a long period of time, the heart trace then became normal,” he wrote.

The doctor also told the Aylwards that the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck was “possibly important material” in the investigation of the baby’s death. He also said that the pathology report showed signs of stress, but no specific abnormality was identified.

He acknowledged their suspicion that their daughter was viable and would have survived if a C-section had been performed on their first April hospital visit.

Treatment

“I think it is reasonable to presume that if a Caesarean Section had been performed on the night of April 7 that your daughter Orla would have been born alive and healthy,” the letter reads.

Both Millie and James described some of their treatment at the hospital as “inhumane” and contributing to their grief. They said they were not offered adequate counselling and their baby’s death cert was sent to their home, arriving on the day of mum Millie’s birthday. The devastated mother said that she continues to suffer with depression and anxiety.

Professor Daly apologised for not living up to their expectations in his role as master of the Coombe at the time. Professor Daly was not involved directly in the maternity care of Ms Aylwardor the delivery of baby Orla. A spokesman for the Coombe said that they were aware of the review request, but could not comment on individual cases.

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