South Yorkshire baby ‘died after tube blunder’

Baby: Summer Hawcroft.
Baby: Summer Hawcroft.
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A TINY premature baby suffered devastating brain damage and died in hospital after a ventilation tube fitted to help her breathe became blocked, an inquest heard.

Summer Hawcroft lived for just 49 days before dying in her mother Michaela’s arms at the Jessop Wing in Sheffield.

Concerns: Michaela and Stephen Hawcroft, the parents of baby Summer.  Picture: Dean Atkins

Concerns: Michaela and Stephen Hawcroft, the parents of baby Summer. Picture: Dean Atkins

The infant was placed on the ventilator just 20 minutes after being delivered by Caesarean section, a Sheffield inquest heard, and went into cardiac arrest when the vital tube became blocked and needed to be replaced.

Summer’s parents – Stephen, aged 37, and Michaela, 26, from Kendray, Barnsley – believe a delay in noticing the problems with the ventilation equipment led to their daughter’s death last June.

Summer was born at Barnsley Hospital in April 2011 and was transferred to Sheffield once her brain injuries were discovered.

Dr Ash Kale, a consultant registrar at the time of the birth, said it took four attempts to fit the tube and said he reduced the settings on the ventilator before handing over to a colleague overnight.

The next morning he found Summer was suffering from respiratory distress syndrome, but said this was ‘not uncommon’ in premature babies.

Dr Mudher Al-Adnani, a consultant paediatric pathologist at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, conducted a post-mortem on the baby. He told the inquest that, while other causes for Summer’s brain damage could not be ruled out, there were no such references in her medical notes.

Dr Al-Adnani said the youngster’s brain had been starved of oxygen and showed ‘extensive and widespread changes’, which can be seen in babies with severe lung disease, low blood pressure and anaemia.

But he added: “Reading the medical notes there does not seem to be anything else that explains this other than the tube dislodging.”

In his report based on the notes, Dr Al-Adnani wrote that Summer seemed to be ‘doing well’ until May 4, when her heart rate fell.

“Over the next few hours the ventilation tube was blocked twice, requiring replacement. She then had a cardiac arrest, requiring intensive resuscitation,” he said.

The inquest continues.