Sunday 4 December 2016

'His perfect little body was cut up and handed back' - baby had blood seeping from his head when handed back to parents after autopsy

Louise Roseingrave

Published 04/05/2016 | 02:30

Parents of baby Darragh Byrne, Maree and Eoin.
Parents of baby Darragh Byrne, Maree and Eoin.

The parents of a baby boy who died four days after birth say their son was returned to them after his autopsy with blood seeping from his head.

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Parents Maree and Eoin Byrne said they were driving home when Maree noticed the blood.

Holding a blood-stained baby's hat outside Dublin Coroner's Court after a verdict of medical misadventure was returned at an inquest into her son's death, she said: "No parent should ever have to see that."

Baby Darragh Byrne was born at the Coombe Women's Hospital in Dublin but died four days later on February 19 2013.

His parents, from Woodgrove Lawns, Portlaoise, Co Laois, said they faced "many difficulties, delays and setbacks" in their search for answers.

"Our mission today was to seek the truth around baby Darragh's death and prevent a tragedy happening to any other family," Maree Byrne said.

"We've lost our son Darragh... Our only comfort is that Darragh's short life will make having a baby in this country a safer place," she said.

Dublin's Coroner's Court previously heard how the couple received a "letter of apology" from the hospital acknowledging "failings" in the care of their son.

Holding a stained baby's hat, Maree told of a difficult drive from Dublin back to Co Laois.

"This is my son's hat, returned to us after his post-mortem. This is the only thing I have left remaining belonging to my son, his blood-stained hat and the harrowing memories of how his perfect little body was cut up and handed back to us."

Following three days of evidence, Coroner Dr Brian Farrell returned a verdict of medical misadventure based on the risk factors identified during the inquest.

These included the loss of a cardiotocography (CTG) reading while oxytocin, a drug used to induce labour, was administered and accelerated.

No medical review of the baby's condition was sought, despite hospital protocol that ensures oxytocin administration requires simultaneous CTG readings.

No blood gas analysis or foetal scalp electrode was taken to determine the baby's condition during the period before birth, the court heard.

Around an hour before Darragh was born, the registrar decided the baby needed to be born as quickly as possible.

But he was unable to perform the C-section and the consultant on call was performing surgery elsewhere.

This caused a 20-minute delay which was a matter of concern for the family, barrister Sara Antoniotti told the coroner's court.

Baby Darragh was born in poor condition at 1.06pm and passed away four days later. The cause of death was multi-organ failure due to hypoxia, or lack of oxygen.

The coroner said he would look at the current protocols around electronic foetal monitoring and the use of Oxytocin at the Coombe and would liaise with the hospital as requested by the family.

Irish Independent

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