Tue | Sep 26, 2017

How did our baby die? - Family wants to know if their little fighter Jalisa was among ill-fated 18

Published:Sunday | October 25, 2015 | 10:00 AMArthur Hall
A preterm baby at a local hospital.
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A Clarendon couple is demanding answers today after their preterm baby, Jalisa, died at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) at the height of the bacteria infection that claimed the lives of 18 babies.

The distraught parents said they were told that a post-mortem has not yet been done to determine the cause of Jalisa's death; however, a report from the hospital late last week lists a baby born on the day Jalisa was born and who died on the day she lost her battle to survive among those to have died from the outbreak.

"Is our baby among the 18?" asked Mark*, the father of Jalisa, who died at the UHWI on September 5, almost five months after she was born prematurely.

"We were told that they would conduct the post-mortem and give us the cause of death in three weeks, but now, they are telling us that because it is a baby, it will take six to eight weeks," Mark told The Sunday Gleaner.

"It's now that I hear about the 18 babies who died from the infections that I have started to wonder," he added.

The UHWI report lists a preterm baby who was born on April 16 and who died on September 5 among those who contracted infections caused by the serratia and klebsiella bacteria.

According to Mark, the family is now considering its next step as it seeks clarity on what caused the death of their little fighter.

"I'm not sure if we are going to take legal action, but we are looking at our options," said Mark.

It was an excited couple when Mandy* first told Mark that her pregnancy was confirmed, and the couple started making plans for their first child.

There was some economic concern when an ultrasound showed that she was carrying triplets, but that could not put a damper on the couple's joy.

However, it was a rough pregnancy, and shortly after passing six months, Mandy started experiencing blood-pressure issues.

At six months and two weeks, she was admitted to the UHWI, where she was treated and released.

"I begged them to keep her for the extra two weeks because I knew that if she made it to seven months, the babies had a better chance of living, but the hospital said no and discharged her the Wednesday, even though they were waiting for some test results," claimed Mark.

"By the Thursday morning, we had to rush her back from Clarendon to the hospital, and they decided to go in and take the babies."

One baby was stillborn and a second died four hours after birth, but Jalisa was a fighter and she held on to life.

"While she was in intensive care, they told us she contracted an infection - I don't remember the name - and that caused her to lose all the fingers on her right hand, but she got better and was strong enough for them to do a surgery to fix some valve near her lung.

"She was doing better and gaining weight until she started having seizures and died on September 6, almost five months after she was born," said Mark.

The distraught father said while Jalisa was in the hospital, he was aware that something was wrong.

"At one time, them shut down the ward, and it was only our baby and one or two other babies in there. We had to wear something like masks when we went in," Mark told The Sunday Gleaner.

Mark said his wife could not speak with our news team as she was very distraught after losing Jalisa.

The health ministry last Tuesday confirmed that 18 babies have died because of an infectious outbreak at the UHWI in St Andrew and the Cornwall Regional Hospital in St James. The ministry said the 18 were among 42 babies who contracted infections caused by four outbreaks of the klebsiella and serratia bacteria.

A probe is continuing to determine the source of the bacteria.

*Names changed on request.

arthur.hall@gleanerjm.com