Family calls for probe after one-year-old dies at Mabaruma Hospital

The parents of a one-year-old child, who died at the Mabaruma Hospital after receiving an injection for a cold and fever, are calling on the authorities to launch an investigation as they are convinced that her death was a direct result of the treatment received at the facility.

Prya La Cruz died on May 24th, 2018, one day after she had received an injection at the Mabaruma Hospital, where she was taken by her mother for treatment for a cold and fever.

While attempts were made by Stabroek News to contact the Ministry of Public Health for a comment on the claims, these proved futile.

Brenda La Cruz, the mother of the dead girl, yesterday explained that her daughter had come down with a fever and slight cold three days prior to them visiting the hospital and it was decided that it was best to take her to the Mabaruma District Hospital for treatment.

La Cruz said she and her husband traveled to the hospital from their home in Yarakita, some distance away from the township, on May 23rd, 2108 and they met with a doctor who examined the child.

The mother went on to say that after the doctor examined the child, she was given a piece of paper and asked to take it to a nurse who would later administer an injection to the child. In addition, La Cruz said she was given three bottles of medicine and told to wait until 3 pm to have the nurses check the child’s temperature.

According to the woman, at no time did the doctor or any of the nurses say to her that her daughter was suffering from pneumonia, to which, she says, the hospital staff has since attributed the child’s death. 

She noted that apart from the cold and fever, her daughter had shown no other signs of being sick as she was breastfeeding and interacting as she normally would.

According to La Cruz, several hours after the child received the injection, the otherwise healthy toddler showed a change in the way she was breathing.

 “They told me to wait ’til three and then go back to the nurse for them to check her temperature and I do all that but when time come for us to go back home, I start see that something wrong with my baby. When we reach in the boat at Kumaka, I notice she breathing like she got short breath and she stop nurse, so I tell me husband to leh we stay by he mother the night until baby feeling better cause we living far and is hard to get boat to come out,” the woman explained.

She further noted that she spent the entire night monitoring her daughter and became extremely worried after realising that the baby was struggling to breathe and her movement had slowed.

 “I see like she start breathing as though she got a lot of cold in her chest, so I put on baby clothes and had to ask to borrow a boat because we ain’ had a boat and paddle over to Kumaka to take her back to the hospital. When we get to Kumaka, they ain’ had no bus or taxi and we were going to start walking [when] we find a bus to take us up,” La Cruz said.

She noted that when they arrived at the hospital, doctors had not yet arrived and she began searching all over the hospital until she found help.

Pulling

“They start pulling blood out of her throat and bore she up all over she skin. I cry. I cry. I cry until somebody tell me ready a bag, how they gon have to take baby to town for better treatment,” the grieving mother lamented.

“All the doctor and nurse them come and crowd round she and I pushing to see what they doing to my baby. When me see me baby, she get black, black, black. Me cry because me say, ‘Father, God, help me baby, she come here strong, strong yesterday and look how she deh suffering here now,’” she added.

La Cruz further explained that attempts were made to place the child in an ambulance but the decision was later reversed and the child was taken back into the hospital, where it was later discovered that she had stopped breathing.

The child is said to have passed away at 11 am on May 24th.

According to La Cruz, the family’s trauma did not end there.

The mother, who was adamant that the hospital held responsibility for her daughter’s death, made a decision to take her complaint to the nearby police station and left the hospital.

The woman said she returned to the hospital after giving statements at the Mabaruma Police Station only to find out that they had performed an autopsy.

“They do this thing without saying anything to us. They went behind we back and just cut me child just like that,” La Cruz lamented.

To make matters worse, the woman explained that they family was not issued a death certificate.

La Cruz also said the family later received a message from the hospital indicating that they could pick up the child’s remains from the hospital’s mortuary. However, when they arrived to do just that, staffers were unable to locate the remains and they were asked to return the next day.

“When we got there, they start pulling out the doors but everyone they pull out was empty except for one that had a man on ice inside and so someone tell me husband to come back the next day. When we go back the next day now, they pull out the same door that had the man and we see baby laying on top of he,” the mother explained.

According to La Cruz, they eventually received their daughter’s remains and buried her.

Stabroek News was told by the woman that the family has not since been contacted by any official from the Ministry of Public Health but they are calling on the authorities to look into the child’s death, since they are of the strong belief that it is the hospital which is responsible.

“They cannot pay me for my child. We want justice”, La Cruz added.

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