Huntly death inquest begins

SEEKING ANSWERS: Friends and family of Casey Nathan arrive at court. They provided a list of 10 concerns they wanted addressed.
SEEKING ANSWERS: Friends and family of Casey Nathan arrive at court. They provided a list of 10 concerns they wanted addressed.

A woman who died six hours after giving birth to her newborn baby - who also later died - propped herself up on one arm and told her partner that she was going to die, an inquest has heard.

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

Miss Nathan died in Waikato Hospital on May 21, 2012, six hours after giving birth to Kymani, who died two days later.

Reading a statement on behalf of Miss Nathan and her partner Hayden Tukiri's whanau, Jenn Hooper of Action to Improve Maternity told Coroner Garry Evans of her last words as she was being transported to Waikato Hospital by ambulance: "Babe, I'm going to die."

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

Mrs Hooper said Miss Nathan's fundal height - the height of the abdomen/uterus - was extremely above normal and was recognised by the lead midwife and the two other midwives at the scene, but nothing was done about it.

Mrs Hooper said that Mr 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 recorded 37 degrees Celsius, said Mrs Hooper.

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

Mrs Hooper said Miss Nathan suffered heavy blood loss and during her labour there were three changes of "blood-soaked sheets".

She said Mr Tukiri also noted "puddles" and "lumps" of blood, including clot, in the ambulance.

Mrs Hooper said the family was also concerned as to why Kymani was given what she said was 85 times the amount of adrenaline required for a newborn when she said it was not 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.

Miss Nathan was dilating at an "abnormally slow" rate. She said Miss Nathan would have also been extremely dehydrated and fainted in the birthing pool 30 minutes prior to giving birth.

Mrs Hooper said Kymani had a seizure when he was five minutes old. It was then that an ambulance should have been called.

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

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

"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 Kymani was born "pale and limp" at 11.01am. An ambulance had arrived at 10.56am.

A Waikato Hospital doctor told the inquest that Kymani was pronounced dead at 10.08pm on May 23, 2012, as a result of multiple organ failure due to "severe neonatal encephalopathy" complicated by respiratory problems.

When questioned about the doses of adrenaline, the doctor said it was administered under the tongue so it was unclear how it was absorbed through the lining of the mouth.

A Waikato hospital anaesthetist told the inquest, from the information received about Miss Nathan, she would have been "critically unwell . . . requiring immediate and aggressive restoration immediately".

"She got a little bit better for a while and even a bit stable . . . but there became a plateau and after we gave her more blood she didn't improve and that was the first sign that there was more to this than the haemorrhage."

The anaesthetist said they expected Miss Nathan's autopsy report to show some history of a heart condition, but that was ruled out.

However, the anaesthetist said her faint in the birthing pool was a "significant herald event, whose exact nature remains unexplained".

The anaesthetist said the midwives' care of Miss Nathan after fainting in the pool was "reasonably appropriate and were taken out with reasonable speed".

The inquest will continue into early next week.

Waikato Times