‘Maternity Delays Caused Death’ Of Couple’s Twin Baby Boy

Mum Speaks Of ‘Heartache’ After Losing Longed For IVF Baby

08.02.2011

A West Midlands couple has received an out of court compensation settlement following hospital failures which allegedly led to the death of their twin baby son.

Kerry Burton and her partner Nigel Walton from Smiths Wood in Birmingham had been trying for a baby for five years and resorted to IVF treatment after fertility problems meant they were unable to conceive naturally. However their joy, after finding out that Kerry was expecting twins, ended in tragedy when their second twin Bailey died. 

This followed a delay in carrying out a caesarean section following the delivery of their first twin Rebecca.  By the time their son Bailey was finally born he had suffered irreparable brain damage and, he sadly died just two days later on 2nd October 2008.

Following an internal investigation at the hospital, Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust has paid out an undisclosed five figure compensation settlement. Now a medical negligence expert is calling for lessons to be learned by the Trust in order to avoid the death or serious injury of newborn babies due to delays in maternity care.

Guy Forster from Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, who represented Miss Burton and Mr Walton, said: “During delivery, when a baby is in distress and is being starved of oxygen, every minute is critical. It appears that the doctors quickly recognised both twins’ heart rates were dangerously slow and Rebecca was delivered soon after but there were then long delays before Bailey was born. 

“To lose a much longed for baby after undergoing months of IVF treatment is bad enough but to discover that there had been entirely preventable delays has been very difficult for Kerry and Nigel to cope with. Their torment has been compounded by the Trust’s failure to admit legal liability for Bailey’s death in spite of its own highly critical internal investigation.  Sadly, the tragedy has damaged their relationship as a couple and as a consequence they are no longer living together although they remain devoted parents to their twin daughter, Rebecca.”

Problems first arose when, on 27th September 2008, at 27 weeks of pregnancy, Miss Burton was admitted to Heartlands Hospital after reporting reduced foetal movements. Initially it was suspected that her waters may have broken but, following a scan, she was discharged home. Three days later Miss Burton began suffering from abdominal pain and at 5.20am on 30th September she was re-admitted to the hospital’s delivery suite, where it was discovered that she was in the advanced stages of labour.

However, when the maternity staff noticed that the babies’ heartbeats were becoming slow, an emergency crash team was called and baby Rebecca was delivered vaginally at 7.05am.  Rebecca was admitted to the neonatal unit for her condition to be stabilised.

Miss Burton was then transferred to theatre after it was discovered that her second twin was in the breech position. Despite the signs of foetal distress, more vital minutes elapsed before the decision was finally taken to perform an emergency caesarean section. Bailey was finally delivered at 7.59am and by then was in a very poor condition and unable to breathe unassisted. He was transferred to the neonatal unit but sadly he died two days later on 2nd October 2008.

Kerry Burton commented: “It’s been so difficult to move forward following the loss of Bailey, although having little Rebecca has meant we have had to stay positive for her sake. She has thankfully overcome the initial problems following her difficult birth and she is a typical toddler who is full of life. However, it’s heartbreaking to look at her and think that she will never grow up alongside the little brother she should have had.

“To find out that Bailey’s death was as a result of him being starved of oxygen during his delivery makes me so angry. Although nothing will ever bring my baby back, it’s important that the Trust learns lessons so that no other parents have to suffer as Nigel and I have.”