Mum wants apology for horror birth

Melanie Jones
Melanie Jones

A mother whose stillborn child was decapitated as medics tried to remove him is taking her fight for an apology to the Health and Disability Commissioner.

"People need to know about the maternity care at Waikato Hospital - there needs to be urgent referrals and they need to be acted upon as soon as possible," Melanie Jones said.

She has laid a complaint with the Health and Disability Commissioner and is hoping it will prevent other mothers going through what she did.

Ms Jones, 38, lost her baby Louis in May 2011 when his heart stopped beating at 22 weeks, but she still had to give birth to him.

However, during the birth his head became detached and Waikato Hospital staff spent several hours trying to retrieve it from her. When she got him back, there was cottonwool around his neck.

"They brought him down like nothing had happened and told me not to pick him up, not to be too rough, because his head might fall off. He was completely decapitated. It was just horrific."

But Ms Jones' trauma didn't stop there, with her almost bleeding to death several months later after doctors failed to detect, until it was almost too late, a massive placental tumour growing in her uterus.

For months after the birth she remained in pain, with heavy bleeding. But she says both her GPs and those at the emergency department failed to realise what was causing the pain.

Finally, in November 2011, an MRI was done and a large tumour detected. An appointment was made with the gynaecology department for December despite the continual heavy bleeding.

But she never made it, haemorrhaging as she was driving to the hospital for that appointment.

"Pools of blood just started pouring out of me."

She is estimated to have lost around two litres of blood and arrived with a very low pulse. An emergency hysterectomy was performed.

In her ACC treatment injury report, independent physician Dr Carolyn Bilbrough said it was odd that Ms Jones wasn't seen by senior medical staff until it was "an extreme emergency".

But Waikato District Health Board is refusing to accept Ms Jones' case was a "serious or sentinel event", saying it doesn't fit the criteria.

"Our condolences go to Melanie Jones and her family. There are a number of clinical issues involved here, which means it would be inappropriate of us to comment further," spokeswoman Mary Anne Gill said.

However, Hamilton-based Action to Improve Maternity spokeswoman Jenn Hooper said Ms Jones "was definitely let down, by every person, every step of the way".

"I've seen a lot of scary [cases], but at the end of the day, for the continual screw-ups, the continual letdowns, for the number of people that had a chance to actually say 'I'm going to be responsible for this until the end' - for the lack of that happening . . . this is probably one of the worst. The ball was dropped more often than it was picked up." Fairfax NZ

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