'They came in together - they will leave together'

MARYANNE TWENTYMAN AND NICOLA BRENNAN-TUPARA
Last updated 05:00 25/05/2012
PETER DRURY

The family of Casey Nathan is mourning not only her death but also her baby as the coroner launches an investigation into how things went so wrong during the birth for the first-time mother. Waikato Times reporter Maryanne Twentyman talks with Casey's father and uncle.

Casey Nathan
FAMILY MOURNS: Casey Nathan, 20, seen with partner Hayden Tukiri, died on Monday night, six hours after giving birth. Her infant son died on Wednesday.

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Bloodclotting is understood to be a factor in the death of a 20-year-old Huntly woman who died while giving birth this week.

Not that the full reason is likely to be made public any time soon. The office of the coroner told the Waikato Times yesterday they had been instructed by the coroner not to make his findings public.

But Tem Ormsby, the spokesman for the grieving relatives of Casey Nathan, last night told One News the family had been told of "some suspicious circumstances around the bloodclotting".

Ms Nathan died at Waikato Hospital just hours after giving birth to Kymani – her first child – at Huntly Birthcare on Monday morning.

Kymani, also in Waikato Hospital, died on Wednesday evening following complications.

Grieving grandfather Caz Nathan was last night waiting for Kymani's body to arrive at Waingaro Marae from an autopsy in Wellington.

He hopes that two-day-old Kymani can 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 told the Times yesterday.

Mr Ormsby earlier welcomed the Times onto the marae with open arms.

"As a family we believe the media have got to tell the story, we want the story to be known so this does not happen again – so this doesn't happen to other families," Mr Ormsby said.

He credited the paper for its handling of a difficult story.

"It was really good, I was overcome to tears – it was so well explained and I hope [the authorities] will sit up and take notice," he said.

The death of both the mother and child as a result of childbirth is a rare occurrence in New Zealand, one expert told the Times yesterday.

Perinatal and Maternal Mortality Review Committee chairwoman Cindy Farquhar yesterday told the paper that the deaths of Ms 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 Ms 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.

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"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.

- Waikato Times

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