Mother's tubes tied without consent while giving birth, baby dies days later

- File photo
- File photo

A San Juan woman is now threatening legal action against the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) after her baby died days after being born at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in 2020.

Compounding her distress, she claims her tubes were tied without her consent and robbed her of the opportunity to become a mother.

The letter was sent by Freedom Law Chambers, headed by Anand Ramlogan, SC, to NCRHA CEO Davlin Thomas on May 2.

It said 34-year-old public servant Afeisha Baker had a lifelong dream of becoming a mother and was overjoyed when, in April 2020, after six years of marriage, she became pregnant. Excited to welcome their first child into the world, the couple spared no expense to prepare for her arrival.

Baker also vowed to name her baby "Miracle," as she was the beacon of light in her life.

The letter said Baker regularly attended check-ups with her private medical practitioner who eventually referred her to the antenatal clinic at the Mt Hope Women's Hospital.

"After thorough deliberation and consultation with her private medical practitioner, counsellor as well as her partner, our client entrusted the EWMSC/Mt. Hope Hospital with her care for delivery," it said.

There was an initial concern over her cardiovascular health.

As her pregnancy progressed, her antenatal and cardiac teams decided when it was time for her to give birth, they would neither encourage nor push her to perform a caesarean section (C-section).

On September 6, she went into pre-term labour.

"The approach, as advised, was that they will allow the baby to naturally come down on its own and then they would use forceps to assist the birth. This was the agreement they came to in order to avoid any potential cardiac complications."

The letter said Baker's medical team remained by her side throughout the labour, providing care and monitoring the progress. As per hospital protocol, the team was changed after 48 hours.

The new team told Baker both the baby's and her heartbeats were stable and she was eight centimetres dilated, just two centimetres away from full dilation.

However, the letter said it all changed on September 9, when another doctor took over. The letter said 45 minutes after taking over, the doctor abruptly told Baker a C-section was necessary. It said despite her explanation that she had recently eaten and that her doctors had advised against surgery, the doctor allegedly dismissively told her: "This is no longer your decision or anybody else decision, this is a big boy decision all right?!”

She reluctantly agreed and was immediately taken into surgery.

Although the doctor told Baker's sister, neither her husband nor her mother was told of the change in plans.

Approximately five minutes into the operation, baby Miracle was born at 28 weeks' gestation and sent to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

The letter claimed the doctor told Baker he was going to tie her tubes. However, it said she was groggy from the anaesthetic from the surgery and did not grasp what the doctor was saying.

"She was not even given any opportunity to ask any questions or express her concerns, neither did she sign any consent form agreeing to such a procedure. In reality, our client did not want to undergo tubal ligation – she wanted to have more children."

The letter claimed Baker's initial medical team were surprised at what had happened when they returned, given it contradicted the plan they had outlined in their notes. It said one nurse later told Baker there had been several previous complaints about the doctor's behaviour, especially his treatment of other mothers.

The letter highlighted that the doctor in question was recently found guilty of medical negligence by a High Court judge. In that matter, the baby was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and therefore suffered permanent damage which has badly affected the quality of his life.

The letter said despite all of this, Baker chose to focus on the positives: she was now a mother. It said she found solace in reassurances from the medical team that baby Miracle was strong and doing extremely well.

While Miracle was still warded at the NICU, Baker was discharged on September 11 and returned to visit the baby during visiting hours. Miracle was reportedly still in the same condition as the day before; active, lively and smiling with her mother.

However, that night Baker received a call from a nurse at the NICU saying there was an emergency. On arrival, the couple were not allowed to see their daughter and were escorted to a room next to the NICU. A doctor told them they met Miracle bleeding profusely from her mouth and nose, losing a significant amount of blood.

The letter said the doctor told the couple there was a shortage of staff at the NICU and apologised.

However, the doctor also assured the worried couple this type of bleeding was not unusual for premature babies. An hour later, they were allowed to see Miracle. The baby had lost her rosy complexion and was now pale, connected to tubes and no longer active as she had been earlier in the day.

Upset, Baker asked one of the nurses how they could let this happen, to which the nurse allegedly said: "You feel yuh child is d’ only one here?? We cyah be monitoring one baby alone all d time inno. Bess yuh just go one time because we hadda organize d blood transfusion one time.”

The couple were then instructed to leave the NICU.

The next day, on September 12, the couple returned during visiting hours but were told they were unable to see Miracle as doctors were attending to a critically ill baby. They left hours later without getting to see their daughter. The couple took the absence of any calls or updates as a sign that Miracle was doing better.

However, the next morning, on September 13, the NICU contacted them and told them to visit the hospital immediately.

They were taken to a waiting room where doctors explained their daughter would need to be sedated and receive a blood transfusion because her lungs had collapsed, her heart had failed and she was bleeding uncontrollably.

"This devastating news came as a complete shock to our client and her husband," said the letter.

This was more so because they had been assured they would be informed of any developments, especially given they were there during visiting hours on the day it occurred.

However, the couple's pain would only grow when one of the nurses brought in Miracle's lifeless body.

"Our client has endured the heartbreak of losing her baby, and the pain is unbearable. Compounding this tragedy is the fact that our client’s tubes were tied against her wishes, robbing her of her only chance at motherhood. Despite offers of counselling at the hospital, the thought of returning to that place, where her dreams of motherhood were shattered twice, fills her with extreme anguish, and also disgust. Our client is now confronted with the harsh reality that her dream of becoming a mother has now come to nought."

The letter said Baker was empowered by the recent wave of mothers coming forward with similar experiences and hopes speaking out can help her get answers and closure.

The letter argued the NCRHA's staff or agents were negligent, as they failed in caring for the client and her baby, failed to provide reasonably competent staff and failed to provide timely and appropriate medical interventions among other shortcomings.

The attorneys said should the NCRHA be unwilling to settle the matter, their client intends to seek general damages including aggravated damages, special damages, exemplary damages, interest, costs and any other relief the court deems fit.


"Mother’s tubes tied without consent while giving birth, baby dies days later"

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