'They came in together - they will leave together'
The family of a 20-year-old Huntly woman who died in childbirth this week want her to be buried with her baby in her arms.
Casey Nathan died at Waikato Hospital just hours after giving birth to Kymani – her first child – at Huntly Birthcare on Monday morning.
Kymani also died at Waikato Hospital, on Wednesday evening following complications.
Grieving grandfather Caz Nathan was last night waiting for Kymani's body to arrive at Waingaro Marae after an autopsy in Wellington.
He hoped that two-day-old Kymani could be buried in the arms of his mother in the family cemetery at Urupa tomorrow.
"So many tears have come out of my eyes – it has been so hurtful," he said.
Bloodclotting was understood to be a factor in Nathan's death, but the office of the coroner was not commenting.
But Tem Ormsby, the spokesman for the grieving relatives of Nathan, last night told One News the family had been told of "some suspicious circumstances around the bloodclotting".
The death of both the mother and child as a result of childbirth is a rare occurrence in New Zealand, one expert said.
Perinatal and Maternal Mortality Review Committee chairwoman Cindy Farquhar said that the deaths of Nathan and Kymani were a "very rare and tragic" event.
Between 2006 and 2009 – the latest years available – 49 women died while giving birth, 20 as a direct result of the birth. Between 2007 and 2009, 2099 babies died.
While the number of women who die during child birth in New Zealand is comparatively low – 22 per 100,000 in 2009 – Professor Farquhar said there was always room for improvement.
"That's what the purpose of our committee is ... we are trying to improve the outcomes for mothers and their families."
The Nathan family is now trying to make sense of what has happened.
"We want closure for our girl and we want answers – but they will come," Mr Ormsby said.
The family is struggling to understand how Nathan could have died "in this day and age".
"This was something that happened in the past when technology wasn't available but technology is available today and it shouldn't have happened," he said. "It's not just the mother – it's the mother and the child – two lives and a family that's been ripped apart.
"They came in together – they will leave together."
Professor Kevin Pringle, head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Otago, Wellington, agreed that what happened to Miss Nathan and her son was "really rare". "Nobody expects someone that young to die."
He hoped any coroner's investigation and findings would be taken seriously to prevent further such deaths.