A family was subjected to a “tortuous journey” when their baby girl died from undetected pneumonia within a day of being born, a coroner heard.
Raluchukwu Olivia Okam died at Kingston Hospital after her mother, Chinwe, was summoned back to the hospital’s maternity department in the early hours of February 28, 2015, following a series of increasingly worried phone calls.
Mrs Okam had been sent home the day before with a ruptured amniotic membrane, though she was not in labour.
Her husband Christopher Okam, of Juniper Close, Chessington, told West London Coroner’s Court yesterday: “Her situation developed and it was obvious to everyone that it wasn’t going as normal or as smoothly as they should be.”
The couple waited nearly an hour for her to be seen, even though Mrs Okam was vomiting in reception. It would emerge too late that she was carrying a group B streptococcus bacteria that infected her baby.
Hours later, having received no intravenous antibiotics or fluids following tests which showed baby Raluchukwu’s heart rate to be “suspicious”, and a blood test showing low oxygen levels, Mrs Okam had a caesarean section.
Though doctors tried to resuscitate her immediately after she was delivered, Raluchukwu died.
Obstetrician Andrew Pooley said there was a window of opportunity for administering IV antibiotics, but could not say if the outcome for Raluchukwu, whom he said was a “tragically, profoundly ill” baby, would have been different if Mrs Okam had been given the drugs.
Midwife Patricia Guvi, since retired, said it was normal for a mother to be sent home following a ruptured membrane until the rupture became prolonged.
She said if it was known a pregnant woman carried the group B streptococcus bacteria, and her membrane ruptured, that woman would not be sent home.
Mr Okam added: “There were a lot of things that didn’t go quite as well as they should have gone, and I still think of my daughter.
“This was a baby who was in her mother’s womb growing who didn’t have any problems.”
Senior coroner Chinyere Inyama said the Okams had suffered a “tortuous journey”.
He added: “She [Mrs Okam] returned on February 28, after prolonged rupture of her membranes. Cannulation was difficult and delayed intravenous antibiotics were not given. The deceased passed away very shortly after her birth.”
Raluchukwu died of natural causes, he concluded.