Wednesday 21 March 2018

Evidence into baby's death a 'game changer'

Maree Butler and Eoin Byrne hold a photo of their son, Darragh, at the inquest into his death. Photo: Gareth Chaney
Maree Butler and Eoin Byrne hold a photo of their son, Darragh, at the inquest into his death. Photo: Gareth Chaney

Louise Roseingrave

A baby boy who died days after his birth may have suffered a brain injury a week before he was born, an inquest heard.

In evidence described as "game changing", a pathologist's report found that a condition that could potentially have contributed to baby Darragh Byrne's death from hypoxia (lack of oxygen) occurred before he was born in February 2013.

At Dublin Coroner's Court, parents Maree Butler and Eoin Byrne from Portlaoise, Co Laois, heard pathology evidence from Consultant Neonatal Pathologist at the Coombe Hospital, Dr Colette Adida.

The court heard that Dr Adida found evidence of both acute and chronic hypoxia and the latter could have been caused by an event in the weeks before the child's death.

As the inquest got underway this week, Coroner Dr Brian Farrell heard that the Coombe Hospital issued an apology for failures relating to aspects of the management of Ms Butler's care during labour, relating specifically to a one-and-a-half hour period prior to birth.

The cause of death was multi- organ failure due to hypoxia, according to Dr Adida.

However, from her autopsy, Dr Adida said it was not possible to give the exact cause of the hypoxia, which was described as a "global cerebral hypoxic change" that caused the baby's death.

The pathologist found evidence of chronic hypoxia in the form of non-fatal impairment of the placental function and foetal circulation, which she said can take "a few days to weeks to develop".

"I can't give the exact timing, it takes days to weeks... I can't be more precise than that," she said.

Barrister Simon Mills for the HSE and the hospital apologised for his use of a colloquial term but said the pathology evidence was a "game changer".

Family barrister Sara Antoniotti said the evidence was "entirely inconsistent with what we have been told by our experts".

Adjourning the inquest until March 8, Dr Farrell said: "This (pathology evidence) is a crucial issue that I need to look at."

Irish Independent

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