The Ministry of Education Schools Welfare Department has since intervened in the incident which resulted in the death of ten-year-old Roseann Akeila Harris and her mother is calling for an explanation on why a doctor was unable to determine her child’s injury despite conducting several examinations and a blood test.
A post-mortem examination performed on Monday revealed that Harris, a Grade Five pupil of St Stephen’s Primary School, who had been kicked in her abdomen allegedly by a classmate, died from blunt trauma to the stomach. Her mother, Samantha Peters, also said she was told that her daughter died from blood poisoning.
However, former chairman of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) Board Dr Carl Max Hanoman, in an invited comment, told Stabroek News that from his experience, it was possible that Harris sustained a rupture of the jejunum, a section of the small intestine, which later developed an infection resulting in her death. He said that for such an injury to be caused the kick had to be a “very forceful” one.
Dr Hanoman said if Harris had been kept in the hospital for observation, her life could have been saved. “If the child was observed… They would have noticed her belly get stiff and so,” he said, adding, “In such incidents you have to be very particular, especially if children get hit. You have to observe the child. If the child starts vomiting, then right away you have to go further.”
He advised that schools should hold regular health forums and invite medical officials such as doctors and nurses to educate the children and teachers on simple incidents which can occur on a daily basis, the effects and the actions that should be taken. Also, he said, if possible, there should be a nurse and counsellor present at every school to deal with such cases.
As it relates to GPHC, the former board chairman said that because of the high number of persons at the Accident and Emergency Unit, a section to deal specifically with paediatrics should be developed.
When Stabroek News visited St Stephen’s Primary school, a source related that the Ministry of Education’s Schools Welfare Department has intervened in the matter and the classmate is required to report to a welfare officer every day. He is also reportedly receiving counselling as he had stopped speaking after Harris died.
The source denied claims made by Peters about previous complaints made to the school about similar incidents involving the said classmate, stating that officials of the school were only made aware of the current incident, four days after it occurred, when Harris’s father visited the school to relate that she was unwell.
The ministry has offered to assist the family with funeral expenses, but the offer was refused.
When contacted yesterday afternoon, Peters said she was not satisfied with the level of health care provided to her daughter at the hospital. She plans on returning for answers soon after the funeral which will be held tomorrow.
As it relates to claims of her not allowing Harris to be admitted to hospital, Peters said that issue was never raised. “They never said that they want to keep in my child.
When I go to there and explain to them what happen, they start give her something look like saline. They did x-ray, ultrasound and so and they then they tell me that nothing ain’t show up so they give me some pain tablets and send me away,” she explained. She added that blood was also taken from Harris for a test, but she was not told what test, nor did the doctor relate the results to her.
“He hurry up and left, because my child didn’t even finish taking the things they give her and he left because his shift did near to finish, I hear,” Peters said.
“One time I hear she get blood poisoning so I want know if they do blood test why they didn’t pick it up.
“They could have done better; at least take some more time and check my daughter or something,” Peters said while adding that she is of the belief that her daughter’s life could have been saved. “I going back to the hospital and he have to tell me something, why they didn’t pick up anything at all,” she lamented.
Prior to her death, the child had related to her relatives that one of her male classmates kicked her in her abdomen on March 24, at the school around midday, during a verbal altercation.
She was taken to the GPH where she was treated and sent away.
On Friday last, she was again taken to the hospital after complaining about pain in her abdomen and returned home hours later, having not seen a doctor. She was discovered lying motionless on her bed on Saturday morning by Peters. There were no visible marks of violence on her body.
Peters had previously explained to this newspaper that when Harris returned from school on the afternoon of March 24, she noticed that she was not her normal self and enquired what was wrong. “She said she did standing up by she class door and the boy did want pass and she tell he no the teacher don’t want anyone in the class and he kick she in she belly,” Peters explained.
The woman said she asked Harris what she did afterwards and she said that she went to the classmate’s mother, who was at the school, and complained. “So I ask she what he mother say and she tell me that the lady ask he and he seh he never do that and she just say sorry and that was it,” she had said.
According to Peters, since the incident, Harris was constantly complaining about pain and was vomiting.
The woman had also stated that the kicking incident was not the first in which the same classmate allegedly hurt her daughter.
She said Harris had previously returned home with bruises to her ankle and knee and when she enquired, her daughter had said that the said classmate had thrown her down in school.
She said her daughter’s father had gone to the school a few times to lodge complaints.