Heartbroken mum learns what would’ve saved baby who died after just 37 minutes
Nervous first-time mum Kelly Angelo thought she was in good hands when she arrived at a birthing centre run by midwives – rather than a hospital.
She had been classed as low risk so it looked like it would be problem-free.
Instead, it led to heartbreak. Her precious baby Rafe died of oxygen starvation 37 minutes after he was born, the result of catastrophic mistakes
To add to the agony, Kelly found out at Rafe’s inquest that he would almost certainly have lived had he been delivered an hour sooner.
During labour Kelly was in agony and pleaded with staff at the centre to be moved to hospital.
But a new midwife did not know how to make an emergency call and the ambulance crew made a 13-minute toilet break detour before collecting her.
When she reached hospital, paramedics took her to the wrong door and there were no midwives or doctors to meet her.
Now Kelly, 39, who has since had a healthy son, Nate, two, is campaigning for every first-born child to be delivered in hospital instead of midwife centres.
Like many new mums-to-be, Kelly followed professional advice when she opted to have her baby at Blake Birthing Centre, near her home in Gosport, Hants, in September 2014.
Her pregnancy had been normal. She said: “The midwife said I was low risk. There wouldn’t be a problem transferring me to hospital if anything went wrong.”
Three days before her due date she woke in the night with contractions. Her mum Christine, 69, drove her to Blake with sisters Natalie, 47, and Karen, 44, for company. They arrived around 4am.
But by 11am Kelly “instinctively” knew things were not right and was in a lot of pain.
She said: “Gas and air didn’t help but when I asked for stronger drugs I was told I couldn’t have them because they would make the baby sleepy.”
Over the next four hours things got worse.
She said: “I was in agony. I begged to go to hospital but I was basically made to feel I was inexperienced.”
Finally at 3.30pm midwives realised the unborn baby was in distress and urgently needed hospital.
She said: “I kept asking where the ambulance was. I didn’t know the paramedics had taken a toilet stop on their way to get me.”
Kelly did not reach Portsmouth’s Queen Alexandra Hospital until 4.50pm.
She said: “Everything was a blur of pain and confusion but finally after help from doctors I managed to push Rafe out.
“I only held him for a few seconds. I could see in a corner of the room a team of doctors were working on him but the silence was terrible. I kept asking, ‘Why isn’t my baby crying?’
“A doctor said although they were doing their best he wasn’t expected to live long.
“I’ll never forget the horror. It was the worst moment of my life.
“Rafe was lying in a room in a chilled Moses basket. He looked perfect. I will always regret not taking him home with me but no one suggested it was an option.”
Instead, a few hours later, Kelly was back home, empty and utterly heartbroken.
She said: “I’d known at the scan I was having a boy. I’d named him Rafe then and everything was ready at home – the bedroom, his cot, little blue clothes.
“Coming home without him was terrible. The next few weeks and months I was overcome with grief.”
A few months later Kelly decided to sue the birthing centre. She recalled: “It wasn’t about the money.
“I wanted Rafe’s death properly investigated. I didn’t want negligence covered up and I needed justice for Rafe.
“At first the birthing centre denied everything but I knew they should have transferred me much earlier.”
Kelly, a laser technician, is no longer with Rafe’s dad.
In January 2015 she met Shane, 27, and a year later she was pregnant with Nate.
She said: “I couldn’t enjoy the pregnancy. Nate was born by elective C-section at 38 weeks. He had the cord round his neck twice.
“Had I undergone a natural delivery he might have died too.”
In 2017, in a narrative verdict, Portsmouth assistant coroner Karen Harrold said the delays had been a “critical system failure”.
Last December, after a four-year battle for justice, Kelly, accepted £60,000 compensation from Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust.
But her main battle is to make first-time mums aware of the potential dangers of a midwife-led unit.
One in six UK deliveries are in one of these or a birthing centre. NHS bosses claim standalone midwife units, cheaper than hospitals, are as safe as doctor-led care for low risk births.
But the Birthplace study by the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit in 2011 found four in ten women having their first baby in one are transferred to hospital.
Mums-to-be are unable to have certain kinds of pain relief such as an epidural.
Kim Thomas, at the Birth Trauma Association, said: “If there’s an emergency in labour that requires a woman to be transferred to hospital, then that transfer needs to happen very quickly.
“Sometimes the journey is half an hour or more, and that can mean the difference between a baby surviving or dying.
“There has been pressure from the NHS to persuade first-time mothers to give birth in midwifery units but there isn’t good evidence to show it’s safe.
"Our analysis suggests the risks for a first-time mother of having a baby in a standalone midwifery unit are far higher than in a hospital.”
According to the Birth Trauma Association, medical negligence solicitors have also found that a disproportionate number of their cases relate to deaths or injuries from births at standalone midwifery units.
Kelly said: “If my campaign saves one life then all my fighting for justice will be worthwhile. Most of all it means baby Rafe won’t have died in vain.”
Blake Birthing centre has been contacted for comment.
Top news stories from Mirror Online
Source: Read Full Article