ANTIGUA: Two mothers allege babies were burnt in NICU

(ANTIGUA OBSERVER) – The mothers of two babies who were allegedly burned while receiving care in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) have broken their silence months after the incidents, with one mom demanding compensation and expressing fear her child will be permanently scarred.

Karilyn Lewis, who spoke exclusively with OBSERVER media yesterday, said she had several reasons why she did not come forward when her daughter was injured at the Mount St. John’s Medical Centre (MSJMC) when she was born in July 2018.

But now, with the child’s scar not healing, she wants the public to know

what happened and how it continues to hurt her.

Lewis delivered her baby – her first child – on July 11, 2018, according to the daughter’s birth certificate.

“She was not born with anything on her face. The nurse who delivered her, held her close up to the UV light, claiming that she wasn’t heating up fast enough, her temperature was low,” the mother said.

After that was done, the baby started crying and Lewis asked for the baby to check on whether she was hungry.

The woman said the nurse told her to give her a bit more time and she put the child close to the light again “and she started to scream some more and then she brought her to me”.

After it was observed that the skin on the left side of child’s face was somewhat abnormal, she was taken to the NICU for examination.

“They said it could be a possible epidermolysis bullosa but I don’t have any history of such thing so they ruled it out and said she was burned but they did not say from what,” the woman indicated.

The angry mom said the doctor who was dealing with her and the baby told her “they would take full responsibility for it and they will look after it. But they only took care of her for the time she was up there and when she was strong enough to leave the hospital, they discharged her and they didn’t tell me anything about the burn. All they told me is that it would eventually fade away.”

But, up to now, almost nine months later, the scar is still on the child’s face, a clear and obvious distinguishing mark that’s visible from a distance.

Lewis said she cannot afford the cost for legal action and she did not fight the issue back then because she was convinced by the hospital that the scar would eventually disappear.

“I believe I should be compensated for the injury of my child; she is my first child. On days of her check-ups the doctor would look at it and say ‘yea it is healing’ but what is really healing is the open skin that was there on her face,” she said.

Lewis said she hopes that no one else has to suffer what she and her baby have been suffering, but OBSERVER media has already found another mother with a similar experience.

This past January, another mom discovered her prematurely born baby sustained burns on her fingers hours after she was placed in the NICU at the MSJMC.

This second mom, who said she did not want to be named, revealed that the doctor initially said they had no idea what happened but the hospital nonetheless agreed to care for the burns, free of charge, until they healed, since the burns occurred under the hospital’s care.

This mother also provided OBSERVER media with photographs of the burns on her baby’s fingers, along with the discharge paper which contained information that confirmed the child had been burned.

The baby was born on January 26, and according to the document, which has the MSJMC letterhead and logo, with the sub-heading “DISCHARGE SUMMARY, SPECIAL CARE NURSERY, she was discharged on January 30 with “burns to the right digits 1 – 4 on right hand … cause unknown.”

The mother said her child was fine at birth and it was a nurse who pointed out the burns the following morning when she went to see the prematurely born baby in the NICU during visiting hours, which started at 9 a.m.

She said the nurse removed a mitten that had been placed on the injured hand to show her the baby’s burns.

“The big and index fingers were the worst … after seeing the burn I couldn’t do anything but cry to see how horrible it looked and to know I left her good,” the mother noted.

The mom said she was promised an investigation was going to be done to determine what exactly led to her daughter being burned, but to date, no one has shown her a report and she is unaware whether any probe was actually done.

Since the incident, the baby’s fingers have healed significantly and the mother said it appears there would be no scars – and she is relieved.

When contacted, the hospital’s Communications Manager, Salma Crump said she was unaware of the incidents until OBSERVER media reached out. And, she said she would be looking into them before she can respond.