Monday 14th August, 2006


Hospital hell - women dying, losing babies

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Julieth Primus died six weeks after giving birth due to complications in delivery.
Baby Chasarah will never know her mother Julieth Primus, who died six weeks after giving birth.
Charmaine Trudge died mysteriously after giving birth to a stillborn baby.

Marie Lutchman blames hospital staff for the death of her newborn infant.

By Marsha Mokool

Julieth Primus will never again hold her baby girl in her arms. She will not be around when baby Chasarah takes her first steps or says her first words.

She will not be there to answer her questions when she starts to enquire about the unusual circumstances surrounding her mother’s death six weeks after giving birth.

After all she suffered, Primus will never be just another statistic in her daughter’s eyes.

Primus, 31, delivered her third child at Mt Hope Maternity Hospital on May 15. There were no known complications and she was discharged from the hospital on the same day.

But less than two weeks later she got seriously ill with symptoms of high fever, abdominal pain and loss of appetite.

She was taken to Chaguanas health clinic where she was administered drips. The doctor heard an echo in her heart and advised her to go to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital.

“My sister was perfectly fine after having her baby. But she just kept going down and we could not understand why.

“I was seeing my sister go from bad to worse and there was nothing I could do about it. She could not breathe well, speak properly or walk,” said her bereaved sister Vanessa Alvarez.

She was submitted to a series of examinations at PoS General, which failed to make any sort of diagnosis.

“Doctors were baffled as to what was wrong with her. From the echo in her heart they concluded she had acquired a bacteria in one of the valves in her heart, which had caused a clotting in the valve. But they could not give an explanation for it.

“They wanted to do an angiogram and clear the valve which we were told would cost $120,000. But we were told she was too weak to do the procedure.”

She was eventually transferred to the Intensive Care Unit where she remained “paralysed and subdued” for three weeks, until succumbing to her ultimate death.

“Her doctor assumed she died of heart complications but he was not sure. So he recommended an autopsy.”

The pathologist explained to the family, she said, that remnants of the placenta had been left in her uterus, which eventually poisoned her system, leading to pneumonia.

But the death certificate only stated she died of right-sided lobar pneumonia.

“I want the country to be aware of what is going on in the health system. Even though there may be a lot of doctors who care, there are a lot more who don’t care about human life.

“I want doctors to know it is humans you are dealing with. Even though they deal with hundreds of cases a day, each is a unique and precious life.

“My sister was not just another statistic,” she asserted.

Ceasarian complications

Primus’ case is just one of several reports of alleged negligence in the nation’s health institutions.

People were appalled when the press broke the story of a woman who delivered a baby at Mt Hope Maternity on July 5 and went home and delivered another baby three days later.

No one, including the hospital staff, knew she was carrying twins. The first baby died a few minutes after the Caesarian delivery and the second was stillborn.

Two ultrasounds done in April and a week before the hospital delivery failed to pick up the sound of two heart beats.

It was reported that a piece of afterbirth was left inside of her following the birth of the first twin.

There was another newspaper report of a woman who became paralysed a few months after the delivery of her third child at Mt Hope Maternity Hospital last July.

Abigail Edwards, 27, who is currently warded at PoS General Hospital, cannot walk or talk properly due to complications following the Caesarian delivery of her baby girl on July 19.

An ultrasound confirmed that pieces of placenta had remained in her body after the delivery.

Edwards subsequently developed an abscess in her brain and has to be fed through a tube.

Horror stories

The recent deaths of a mother and her newborn at PoS General Hospital sent shock waves through family members and the young woman’s colleagues at Mega Brite Industries Ltd.

Charmaine Trudge, a 39-year-old mother of three, was admitted to Port-of-Spain General Hospital with high blood pressure on July 28.

Trudge, who was three days overdue at the time, died on August 2. Her baby was stillborn.

“She was in plenty pain and her hands and feet were swollen. We pleaded with the doctor to induce labour but they keep saying they waiting for she pressure to stabilise. “But even when it did they refuse to operate and take out the baby,” said her husband Edmond.

Edmond believes the baby had been dead inside her for two days.

“That is when I realise the baby stop moving,” he said.

Baby Noah, who was buried in the arms of his mother in the same coffin, was registered as an anatomically normal stillbirth.

Trudge’s autopsy results are pending an histology and serology.

To be termed stillbirth the baby will either have died in the womb or during labour, according to an obstetrician.

(Continued on page 38)

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