Baby brain damaged by lack of oxygen at birth

A mother yesterday gave an emotional testimony to a Medical Council inquiry after her son was left brain damaged following a lack of oxygen to his brain during birth.

Dr Mohammad Ilyas Khan, from Tipperary, faces allegations of poor professional performance, specifically in relation to a two-year-old boy, BT, who was born on June 15, 2012.

BT’s mother, Noelle Tobin, made the complaint against Dr Khan, who was practising as a locum consultant paediatrician in South Tipperary General Hospital in Clonmel at the time of the birth.

The allegations claim Dr Khan did not put an ade-quate treatment plan in place following the baby’s birth and diagnosis of hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy (hypoxia). Specifically, it is alleged he failed to make sufficient arrangements so the baby could receive hypothermic or “cooling” treatment.

Research indicates that lowering the body temperature of full-term babies who fail to receive enough oxygen or blood to the brain during birth reduces the chances of disability and death.

BTnow has cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that affects muscle coordination and body movement. He receives ongoing physical therapy for his condition.

Ms Tobin, a teacher, told the inquiry of the birth. BT is her third child and was born on Friday, June 15, 2012 by emergency C-section, after she suffered a ruptured uterus.

She described the frightening moments leading to the emergency operation when her uterus ruptured and it was ‘panic stations’ because the baby’s heart rate dropped.

Able to feel what the doctor was doing, she held on to the doctor’s belt, as he tried to shake her off. Close to death, a team of doctors began to resuscitate the baby.

Ms Tobin told the inquiry: “I began shouting girl or boy? Nobody answered. Then I began shouting dead or alive? Still nobody answered.”

After being resuscitated, the baby was taken to the special care baby unit.

Ms Tobin said a doctor and nurse told her the baby had been distressed and given medication. She says they did not tell her it was anti-seizure medication, and there was no discussion about further treatment.

When Ms Tobin’s sister, Dr Niamh Carroll, who was working at a hospital in Bostonlooked at the medications the baby was on she became upset. Dr Carroll believed strongly that he should be transferred to an intensive care unit, and asked about the cooling treatment.

Dr Khan, Dr Carroll, and Ms Tobin discussed the cooling treatment and Dr Carroll asked why the treatment had not happened. According to Ms Tobin, Dr Khan seemed to indicate the baby did not meet the criteria.

“I haven’t read anything that’s non-cerebral palsy related since [BT] was born,” Ms Tobin later told the inquiry.

The inquiry heard that when the baby was approximately three hours old – within the critical six-hour time frame — Dr Khan and his registrar, Dr Amin Abdelrahim, discussed the possibility of the cooling treatment. However, Dr Khan felt the baby did not meet the criteria.

On Sunday, Ms Tobin requested the baby be transferred to the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin, where he had a seizure on arrival.

Ms Tobin described the days as the family adjusted to their new lives and the diagnosis. Instead of reading cards of congratulations, Ms Tobin was reading about all the disability benefit.

Dr Carroll moved back to Ireland, in part to be of support to Ms Tobin who has not been able to return to work.

The inquiry continues.


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