Sunday 15 September 2019

Birth pool baby 'drowned'

Inquest told tragic infant had water in lungs

Gina Eccles outside the inquest into the death of her son Harry,
three days after being born in a birthing pool
Gina Eccles outside the inquest into the death of her son Harry, three days after being born in a birthing pool

Georgina O'Halloran

A baby died of "acute near drowning" three days after a natural water birth, an inquest heard yesterday.

Gina Eccles (24) gave birth to baby Harry in a birthing pool at Cavan General Hospital on February 26, 2006, helped by a midwife.

After birth, the baby boy was blue in colour, unresponsive to tactile stimulation and made no efforts to breath on his own, Dublin City Coroner's Court heard yesterday.

He was immediately ventilated and was transferred to the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, Dublin, later that day where he died on March 1.

Pathologist Dr Peter Kelehan told the court yesterday that baby Harry had died from an acute "near drowning" event after inhaling fresh water into his lungs.

He said the baby had exhibited hyponatremia or low sodium levels which is "a characteristic of freshwater drowning."

He added there was no evidence of disease which might have caused the baby's demise.

"I was not able to find any legion which existed before this catastrophic event at the time of the baby's birth," he said.

Neuropathologist at Beaumont Hospital, Dr Michael Farrell, was also of the opinion that the event occurred at birth, Dr Kelehan told the court.

Dr Alan Finan, consultant paediatrician at Cavan General Hospital, who treated baby Harry three hours after his birth, had told the inquest on a previous date that he believed the baby had experienced a "neurological insult" before delivery.

Coroner Brian Farrell adjourned the inquest to a date in April to allow counsel for Cavan General Hospital to consult expert Dr Philip Cox on the matter of the new tests.

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