Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Little Chardonnay waits on - Girl with needle left in her chest during surgery continues to suffer

Published:Sunday | October 4, 2015 | 10:00 AMNadine Wilson-Harris
Nicola Irving highlights the scars in the chest of her six-year-old daughter Chardannay Taylor.

It has been more than five years since a surgical needle was left in six-year-old Chardonnay Taylor's chest during operations at two public hospitals, and it appears that it could be some time yet before anything is done to correct this as the matter has become a legal issue.

The Sunday Gleaner has confirmed that the medical officials have passed the case to the Attorney General's Office for advice.

Chardonnay was born at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) in 2009 and was diagnosed as having Down's syndrome and atrioventricular canal defect (hole in the heart), among other complications.

Following a failed attempt by doctors at the UHWI to correct the heart problems, she was referred to the Bustamante Hospital for Children (BHC) where a medical team collaborated with a group of surgeons from overseas to correct her heart defects. An x-ray conducted post-surgery revealed that a needle was left behind in her chest.

In a Sunday Gleaner article last month, Chardonnay's mother, Nicola Irving, said she is extremely concerned about the possible effects the needle might have on her special-needs child in the future.

"When I ask them about the needle, they said that they won't go back in to try to remove the needle because it is very dangerous. I ask them what will happen in the long run and they said that it's a slim chance the needle will move," said Irving, whose request to have this in writing was denied.

While then chief executive officer of the UHWI, Dr Trevor McCartney, told The Sunday Gleaner that he does not recall Chardonnay's case, administrators at the BHC referred us to the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA). SERHA, however, said it was unable to answer questions regarding the case as it is before the Attorney's General Office.

no positive feedback

Irving eventually retained an attorney after not getting any positive feedback from both hospitals, and she claims she is now getting the cold shoulder from the medical practitioners whenever she takes her daughter for treatment.

To further compound the issue, a computerised axial tomography (CAT) scan and X-ray, which were done by a general thoracic and vascular surgeon in 2013, also showed that two scars were in the centre of her daughter's sternum about 10 inches long, which had not healed properly and had separated from her bone, although her skin is intact.

"I was constantly telling the doctors that her chest has a lump and they say that as the child grows, it will go down. But as she develops, it is coming up, it is not going anywhere, it's just making a mountain in her chest, only to find out that she has to have the surgery done," the mother said.

The mother said she is disappointed with how hospital administrators have treated the issue and is still hoping that surgery can be done to remedy the mistake of the doctor(s) that operated on her only child.

"No one has tried to get in touch with me to find out what is really going on with the child or what they plan to do about it," she said.

"By looking at her, she is fine and she is OK. Looking at her, she is active as usual and she is doing well; but I still don't know what is going on in the inside with her," said Irving.