A mother has spoken of how proud she is of her dead son — he has played a vital role in ensuring other babies did not die at birth.

Joshua Keyes died shortly after being born at the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise six years ago. A report on his death published yesterday found “significant failings” in the care he received.

His mother, Shauna Keyes, said she was glad the HSE had finally accepted what happened to her son and apologised.

“I am very, very proud of Joshua. He did not grow up or speak, or show us what he was made of but he certainly left his impact on the world and I am very, very proud of my son today,” she said.

She was glad that all of the 23 recommendations had been implemented in Portlaoise Hospital.

Shauna said she was aged 18 and her partner, Joseph Cornally, was 21 when Joshua was born in October 2009.

“We were not told that Joshua had died until our parents had been told. That was the first mistake as far as I was concerned.”

The hospital insisted on conducting a post mortem and different reasons were given for her son’s death — there was brain damage, his organs were too heavy, and he had Down syndrome.

“What we did not realise was that what they were talking about would have been consistent with the deprivation of oxygen to the body.”

More than three years later Shauna and a number of her friends were being interviewed on local radio station about raising money for a ‘cold cot’ for the hospital.

“We wanted parents of babies who died to be able to spend time with them — the cold cot is a mobile cooling device so that the baby could stay with their parents,” she said.

Shauna and her partner, who now have a young daughter, were upset when Joshua was placed in a box that was too small for him.

Roisín Molloy, whose son Mark, died minutes after being born at Portlaoise Hospital in January 2012, contacted Shauna after hearing her on the radio.

Shauna said :“We soon discovered that our cases were scarily similar and took it from there.”

What Shauna most regrets is that she and her partner were led to believe for almost four years that their son’s death was their fault.

“There were a lot of break ups over what happened to Joshua. We could not be around each other at his anniversary. I am actually surprised we are getting married after everything that has happened,” she said.

Shauna had her daughter, Maisie, in the hospital in December 2014 and saw the many improvements that had been introduced in the past year.

She was also a member of the National Maternity Strategy Steering Group and contributed to its deliberations.

While her life has been on hold since her son’s death, she said she has grown as a person. “I have matured an awful lot — I am 24 years old but I feel I am a 50-year-old in a 24-year-old body.”

Shauna continues to help other families in a similar situation to hers. She works with Patient Focus in a voluntary capacity and is grateful for all the support she received from them.

“Joey and I are getting married on July 28 — Joshua was born on October 28 and we first started going out in July 2008. We are hoping 2016 will be a lucky year for us.”

Patient advocacy coordinator, Cathriona Molloy, said the couple had been to hell and back. “People are still having to do battle with hospitals to get answers — it has to stop,” she said.


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