Surgery failed to save Sheffield baby

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A PREMATURE baby who died two days after she was delivered by emergency caesarian section had suffered from oxygen deprivation and shortage of blood supply, an inquest heard.

Janani Elangasinghe’s mother, Dr Meredith King was called into Sheffield’s Jessop Wing Hospital last October - 29 weeks into pregnancy - after a blood sample revealed high levels of antibodies which can cause anaemia.

Medics advised the mum-to-be that a blood transfusion would be the best treatment for Janani, who had a genetic condition which destroys foetal red blood cells.

Dr King agreed and was admitted, accompanied by husband, Dr Vinod Elangasinghe.

The inquest, at the Medico Legal Centre, heard the transfusion appeared to be a success until the foetus’s heart rate plummeted and consultant Dilly Anumba ordered an emergency caesarean section.

Dr Anumba said: “I told the parents it had been one of the most straightforward transfusions I had done. It is normal for the heart rate of a foetus to drop but when it did not appear to return to normal, I decided we must operate.”

The premature girl was delivered and underwent another blood transfusion. But Janani continued to deteriorate and died, the court heard.

A post-mortem examination found the cause of death was oxygen deprivation and shortage of blood to tissue, leading to organ failure.

Following Janani’s death, her parents questioned whether doctors could have waited and monitored Janani in the womb rather than performing the transfusion.

Coroner Professor Robert Forrest recorded a verdict of death by natural causes. He said: “Without medical intervention Janani would have died in the womb and had it been delayed the outcome could have been the same.”