New mum knew she was going to die, coroner hears

BELINDA FEEK
Last updated 18:07 17/02/2014
Casey Nathan
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TRAGIC END: Casey Nathan, kissed here by Hayden Tukiri, died six hours after giving birth.

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A woman who died six hours after giving birth to a son - who later died - propped herself up on one arm and told her partner that she was going to die, a coroner heard today.

An inquest into the deaths of Huntly mother Casey Missy Turama Nathan, 20, and her son, Kymani, began in the Coroner's Court in Hamilton this afternoon.

Nathan died in Waikato Hospital on May 21, 2012.

Reading a statement on behalf of the whanau of Nathan and her partner, Hayden Tukiri, Jenn Hooper of Action In Maternity told Coroner Garry Evans of the last words Nathan spoke as she was being transported to Waikato Hospital by ambulance.

She had given birth at Huntly Birth Care, a birthing unit in Huntly. Birthing units have only minimal medical equipment.

Hooper said she told Tukiri: "Babe, I'm going to die."

Hooper read out a list of 10 concerns that the family would like the coroner to address, but the coroner later said the statement would not form part of the evidential inquiry.

Hooper said Tukiri said Nathan's fundal height – the height of the abdomen/uterus – was much higher than normal and this had been recognised by the lead midwife and the two other midwives at the scene, but nothing was done about it.

Tukiri also recalled the water temperature of the birthing pool being "way hot, you wouldn't have been able to put your head under it". It was recorded as being 37 degrees Celsius, said Hooper.

The family said that the room had been "hot and humid" with St John Ambulance officers stating it was likely due to the heat of the bath and the heat pump which was also on.

Hooper said Nathan also suffered heavy blood loss and while she gave birth "blood-soaked sheets" were changed.

Hooper said Tukiri had also noted "puddles" and "lumps" of blood, including clots in the ambulance.

Hooper said the family were also concerned as to why Kymani was given 85 times the amount of adrenaline required for a newborn when it had not been necessary.

She said that, combined with giving Kymani breastmilk, would have made his breathing even more difficult and possibly have left him with fluid on the lungs.

Nathan had been dilating very slowly, she said, having only grown from 6 centimetres to 8cm over five hours.

Hooper said this should have been raised as it was "abnormally slow".

She said Nathan would have also been extremely dehydrated and had fainted in the birthing pool.

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She continued that Kymani had a seizure when he was five minutes old and it was then that an ambulance should have been called.

Instead, she said the family said that the lead maternity carer – who has interim name suppression until the coroner's findings are released – was busy texting friends about a recent holiday she had taken, Hooper said.

The family were appreciative of the efforts of a member of the Waikato District Health Board newborn retrieval team who let Nathan kiss Kymani before taking him away in the ambulance, Hooper said.

"This was the only living transaction that Casey and Kymani would ever have and it is held as a truly precious memory [by the family]."

Detective Sergeant Michele Moore earlier gave evidence that when Kymani was born at 11.01am, he was "pale and limp".

She said Nathan fainted in the birthing pool at 10.30am at which point an ambulance was called and arrived at 10.56am.

- Waikato

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