plea for help: Meera Maharaj

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'My sister's life is at risk'

Woman sleeps on ward chairs after baby dies in womb

By Anna Ramdass anna.ramdass@trinidadexpress.com

After being told her baby had died in her womb, a young mother faced the horror of sleeping on four chairs at a public hospital awaiting help.

Meera Maharaj, 30, of San Juan, has been hospitalised since Thursday morning at the Mt Hope Maternity Hospital—her family fears for her life and her mental state as she lies in painful anguish, weeping over the death of her unborn child.

Her sister, Kamla Maharaj, in a telephone interview with the Express, said Meera is in intense physical pain and was told she has to deliver the dead baby naturally.

Maharaj said on November 30, Meera went to the Mt Hope clinic to do an ultrasound—the machine was not working, but an examination was conducted and the heartbeats of the baby were heard.

"They (doctors) said everything was okay on Friday; on Monday, she went back and they gave her three injections and, again, they heard the baby's heartbeat and everything was okay," said Maharaj.

"On Wednesday, she had clinic; they did the ultrasound and the nurse tell her her baby died. They send her back home and tell her to come back," said Maharaj.

"I was very worried for her; I said we cannot keep her home; what if something happen, what can we do? I said we must carry her back to the hospital," said Maharaj.

That very Wednesday where she learned her baby had died, Meera returned to the Mt Hope hospital through the emergency area in the evening.

"Nobody was doing anything; an attendant said she will take us to the delivery section to see if they can help her," said Maharaj.

After being taken to the delivery area, Meera was seen by doctors and nurses and was told she will be admitted to the ward—but there was no bed available.

"When we took her Wednesday night to the hospital, they told her they were still hearing a slight heartbeat. I don't understand why so much delays and all the different things being said; my sister is the one who is suffering," said Maharaj.

"She slept on four chairs on the ward, and in the morning (Thursday), they got a bed and she was warded," said Maharaj.

"She is in plenty pain; they have been giving her tablets, but I'm worried because she has the baby in her and she has been bleeding," said Maharaj.

Meera's feet, said Maharaj, have swollen to twice the size.

"I don't understand how she could go to the clinic two days and was told everything okay, and then they tell you your baby dead," said Maharaj.

"We need some kind of answers; she carried her baby for nine months and never missed a clinic date; week after week, they telling her her baby okay but that her baby was too big and they might have to induce labour," she added.

Meera, she said, was due to deliver her baby in three weeks. The baby would have been her second daughter.

In the very latest development last evening, Maharaj told the Express that doctors visited Meera yesterday and told her that her baby has been dead in her for the past two to three weeks.

She questioned, therefore, all the examinations Meera underwent at the medical clinic where up to Monday, she was told the baby's heartbeats were heard and that she was fine.

Maharaj said out of frustration and the pain of seeing her sister in her own emotional and physical turmoil at the hospital, the family decided that enough was enough and went public, making an appeal for help on TV6 on Ian Alleyne's Crime Watch programme.

A senior official told the Express yesterday that the matter was investigated after it was made public and a report was conducted.

However, the family remains in the dark as to why Meera's baby died and why she was afforded such horrible treatment at the hospital.

"We were told that they will give her till Sunday to see if she will get any labour pains and push out the baby. A nurse said that they cannot do a C-section unless it is critical," said Maharaj.

"The whole family is shaken up and in grief over this matter; her daughter has been crying and her husband is also not doing good," she added.

"I feel her life is at risk; what if she gets blood poisoning? Shouldn't they have done an emergency C-section?" said Maharaj.

"We don't know what to do; we see it every day—all these horrors happening to people but now it hit home. I have a daughter who is also pregnant, and when I see things like this happening, I am fearing for her," said Maharaj.

Maharaj said permission was granted to the hospital to conduct an autopsy on the dead baby after she is delivered.

Obstetrician/gynaecologist Dr Sherene Kalloo told the Express yesterday that a dead baby can stay in a mother's womb for up to two weeks, but the mental frame of the mother must be taken into account.

"In management of a patient, if the baby dies inside of the mother, for example, if her diabetes was out of control or the (umbilical) cord is wrapped around the baby's neck, there is no indication for delivery by C-section; the baby can stay inside for up to two weeks without causing any toxicity to the mother," said Kalloo.

"The main problem that people overlook is the mental aspect that the woman has to endure, knowing that she had a dead baby in her; as a matter or urgency, people must be caring enough to understand the mental state and torture someone is going through," she added.

Kalloo said there can be danger if the water bag bursts as the mother becomes susceptible for infection, which can lead to sepsis–where there is infection throughout the bloodstream itself. Questioned on what were the main causes of death of full-term babies, Kalloo said uncontrolled or undiagnosed diabetes in pregnancy was a common cause, as well as infections.

She added that death can also be caused if the blood flow to the baby is compromised, for example, if there is a knot in the cord or the cord is wrapped around the baby's neck.

Attempts to contact hospital authorities on the report on Meera's matter proved futile.

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