THEY WERE FOR SIMEON: Quelly Ann Cottle at her Cumuto home yesterday shows the bag holding the items which she took to the Mt Hope Maternity Hospital for her baby, Simeon. Cottle underwent a C-Section performerd by a junior surgeon who cut the baby’s head penetrating the brain tissue. —Photo: JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK

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Quelly Ann’s pain: Is UWI forgetting that my baby dead?

By Anna Ramdass anna.ramdass@trinidadexpress.com

Quelly Ann Cottle said yesterday she was warned by doctors of the dangers of her pregnancy and she felt the best team would have been put in place for her surgery.

Cottle, 38, whose baby’s head was cut open during a Caesarean section surgery, said yesterday that on the eve of the surgery a doctor visited her and warned her of all the dangers and complications she may face as she was a high-risk case.

She expressed disgust and outrage over a statement released by The University of the West Indies (UWI) which defended the doctor who did the surgery and the consultant who was on call.

UWI stated the doctor, over the last two years, performed over 100 unsupervised and successful C-sections, including those that were high risk.

It stated further the consultant was on call and accessible but was not requested to be in attendance.

The Express visited Cottle yesterday at her Cumuto home where she clutched the clothes her newborn would have worn—a white and green outfit with matching booties, a little hat and a blanket.

“Is UWI forgetting that my baby dead? Are they forgetting that Simeon’s body is still at a funeral home with a cut on his head? They saying he (doctor) did over 100 successful surgeries so then why my baby dead? Why is my baby not with me? It is clear something went wrong and it now look like everybody want to cover it up,” said Cottle. 

She said she could not understand how UWI could defend a doctor who was responsible for her baby’s death without knowing the facts of the case or even speaking to her.

Cottle said everyone at the hospital knew she was having a premature baby and her condition was risky and she questioned yesterday why in the face of all of this was the consultant not present.

According to Ministry of Health policy, high risk C-section cases should have a registrar or consultant present.

However, UWI had stated in its release that standard practice under the Trinidad and Tobago health care system does not require an on-call consultant to be present at the time of a C-section being conducted, unless there is a special need to do so

Cottle said yesterday that hospital officials knew her case was unique as she has had 12 pregnancies of which five children survived- Kyle, 19, Villiana 17, Hayley 15, Ayeisha 13 and Samuel, four.

Cottle said she had five miscarriages and two years ago, on February 17, 2012 she had a still-born baby.

She has never had a C-section— until March 1 where baby Simeon’s head was sliced open by the doctor.

She was admitted to the Mt Hope Women’s Hospital on February 26 and was initially told her baby would be delivered on March 7.

“Then a doctor came and told me they going to do a C-section because the baby premature and her superiors told her that the baby not going to grow much in one week,” said Cottle.

“I told her okay, whatever is best as long as there are no problems with me and my  baby,” she said.

Cottle said on the eve of the surgery another doctor—a paediatrician—visited her and warned her that there may be complications in the C-section.

“He told me there was a 50/50 chance that my baby would survive as he’s premature and that he would be prone to sickness because the antibodies wouldn’t be built up. He explained to  me all of the dangers. I said a 50/50 chance was still good because God is good and that gave me the hope everything was going to be okay,” she said.

On March 1, Cottle said she was carried to the operating theatre after 2 p.m. 

“I had to sit and crouch and hold the pillow and they inject me in my spine. I just feel my legs go light and they put me to lay down one time,” said Cottle.

Cottle said she was panicking as this was her first C-section experience and she was totally aware of everything going on as only the lower half of her body was administered anaesthesia.

“I then heard my baby crying and I say okay, everything going to be okay, but while they were stitching me back up one doctor say baby have a small cut in he head but he going to be okay,” said Cottle.

“I hearing my child cry, in my mind I thinking he good and he get a small scrape,” she said.

She said the surgical team at one point were in one corner of the room.

“When they was wheeling me out I look back and I see my baby with plaster on the head and he was just lying there, I don’t know if he was alive or dead. When I was going they tell me don’t worry I will see my baby in ICU,” she said.

Cottle said after a nurse changed her she asked for her baby and was told doctors were still “working on him”.

Cottle said a doctor visited her and started talking in the past tense.

“She was saying baby was this and baby was that. I just turned away and started to cry. She said baby got a deep cut on his head and they were trying to resuscitate him right now and she would let me know what happens,” said Cottle.

She said a few minutes later another doctor came to her.

“He stood next to me and said I’m truly sorry to inform you that your baby has passed, we did everything we could to resuscitate him but all efforts proved futile,” said Cottle.

She said she was then asked if she would like to see her dead baby.

Cottle said she was taken to another room and her baby was wheeled in a cot. She said the plaster was removed and his head was stitched. He was wrapped in the lining that is used for the cots.

Holding the clothes she had given to the nurses for her baby, an emotional Cottle said, “I want to know what happened to my baby. If he (doctor) had over 100 successful surgeries is  my baby so insignificant that his death does not matter? The fact that this doctor cut open my baby head does not matter?”

Cottle said she believes her baby would have been alive today had the doctor not cut into his head.

Cottle said the statement issued by UWI as well as comments made by Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan makes her believe she would not get justice.

“Everyone talking at me, not to me. No one has picked up the phone and asked how are you and your family.  They talking as though my baby was not a human being,” said Cottle.

A final autopsy report will be handed over to the parents today after which they will decide a date for baby Simeon’s funeral.

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