The sextuplets’ parents are ungrateful and owe the Government, the Prime Minister and the taxpayers of this country a “thank you” for all that was done to ensure that mother and babies had the best care possible, Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan said yesterday.
The March 4 birth of the sextuplets to parents Petra Lee Foon, a teacher, and Kieron Cummings, a bank employee, was a first for Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean.
Extensive plans were put into place at the Mt Hope Women’s Hospital to ensure a smooth Caesarian-section delivery of the babies, and close to $5 million was spent to purchase equipment for the babies’ aftercare at the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Two of the babies—the youngest and eldest—have since died.
Cummings, according to a Guardian report, said he regretted not taking his wife abroad as he was dissatisfied with the aftercare at Mt Hope.
An upset Khan, speaking to the Express yesterday after the post-Cabinet news conference at the St Clair office of the Prime Minister, took issue with Cummings’ statements.
“I hope he doesn’t have a complaint about the house now that he has gotten from the Government. I wonder if he will say that the room is too small, or they need air-conditioning or they need another storey put on. Looking at their method of approach to what the health sector did for them and to know what is happening now, sometimes, people have to be grateful in life,” said Khan.
Last Friday, the parents were given keys to a three-bedroom Housing Development Corporation (HDC) house in Edinburgh 500.
Cummings, following the birth of his babies, had said that top priority was having a home to raise his children as he lived with his parents in Arima and the mother lived with her parents in Central.
Cummings has said he plans to marry his babies’ mother following her recovery.
Khan said not only were millions spent to ensure the babies had first-class treatment, great sacrifices were also made as other babies had to be accommodated at the Port of Spain General Hospital and the San Fernando General Hospital when the sextuplets were at the NICU.
“I think, at the end of the day, when people get things easy, they don’t appreciate it,” said Khan.
Questioned on the aftercare of the babies at the NICU, which Cummings has taken issue with, Khan responded: “According to the head of the neonatal unit, Dr Carmanee Lutchman, she indicated to me that the aftercare was on international standards, based on all the things we put into place.”
“Now, at the end of the day, one has to ask: what is the motive? Why are they (parents) doing this?” said Khan.
“Time has come to actually tell the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and, hopefully, the Prime Minister thank you for the house when other people didn’t get it, and thank you for bending over backwards to assist us,” Khan added.
He questioned further how exactly was Cummings going to afford international care for his wife and babies if he had to apply for Government housing and depend on the HDC for a home.
Khan said the public health sector strives to deliver the best care possible for all patients and will continue, despite the negative comments from persons who are ungrateful.
He said further that the pregnancy was not a natural one as fertility drugs were used.
“One has to investigate the use of Clomid; Clomid brings out congenital birth malformations,” said Khan as he stressed that in these pregnancies where the babies are premature, there are numerous complications and, therefore, it was unjust to blame the health system for the two babies that died.
Khan said studies were done on the drug that needed to be looked at.
According to a report on website webmd.com, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labelled Clomid as a drug that should not be used in pregnancy because it raises the risk of major birth defects.
The report stated a study was done on Clomid which found that women who opted to use Clomid on their own, without medical supervision, had a 300 per cent higher risk of having a baby born with a birth defect compared with fertile couples.