Trinidad: ‘Healthy Baby’ Dies At San Fernando Hospital

(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) – The deaths of babies from bacterial infections are not confined to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Port of Spain General Hospital, with a couple revealing yesterday that their healthy newborn died 15 days after being admitted to the NICU at the San Fernando General Hospital.

A bacterium called pseudomonas was the pathogen identified as causing the infection that killed baby Matthew Alexander Ramdass, the son of Annalisa and Dex Ramdass, of Cedar Hill Village, Princes Town.

The mother told the Express yesterday that on the day she registered the death of her child she was told that two other babies had died from similar bacterial infections in August of 2022.

The Express could not independently confirm this.

The death of baby Matthew may end up becoming a legal matter with the parents asking for answers as to how a child, given a ten out of ten rating five minutes after being delivered, could end up deteriorating within two weeks.

The paediatric unit of the SFGH is the largest in Trinidad and Tobago, with the hospital attending to 600,000 patients a year across all departments.

What happened

In an interview with the Express, Annalisa Ramdass said this was her second pregnancy.

Her first child, a girl, was delivered through Caesarean section with no complications.

“My doctor advised that I should also deliver this baby by C-section. So this C-section was scheduled and it was done at 38 weeks, so I carried my baby to full term,” she said.

Ramdass, 33, said her baby boy was delivered at the San Fernando General Hospital on July 2, 2022. Her family was now complete, she said.

“I was told it was a healthy baby boy. When he came out the baby was a little blue so the nurses said he had to be placed in the NICU for a few hours to put on oxygen. He was given an eight out of ten at birth and five minutes later they gave him a ten out of ten,” she said.

The Apgar score is a scoring system which provides a standardised assessment for infants after delivery.

The score comprises the baby’s colour, heart rate, reflexes, muscle tone and respiratory function.

Ramdass said her baby went from an eight out of ten, to a ten minutes after being delivered.

Baby Matthew was placed on a ventilator the following day. But his parents were informed that he was not in danger and should be placed in a “step-down ward” soon, as his oxygen levels were increasing.

“The next day when we went to the NICU we were told that they didn’t get time to take him off so he will be taken off the ventilator the next day. It was during the Covid-19 pandemic so we were only allowed to visit once a day, for ten minutes,” she said.

Shattered by baby’s death

However, as the days passed, Ramdass said she observed her baby was deteriorating.

“I went to visit him, two days before he died, and he was not in the usual spot. The doctor said he worsened overnight and was placed in an isolation room.

“My child looked totally different from what I had seen the days before. His skin was different, he looked swollen and I was told he had an infection,” she said.

Even then, Ramdass said no one could answer her questions.

She was informed that blood samples were taken from her baby to determine the bacteria causing the infection.

“I received a call that night saying that my baby had anaemia and was bleeding out and needed a blood transfusion. I went to the hospital and my baby looked like he had no life,” she said.

The couple received a second call, on the evening of August 10, that there was an emergency with baby Matthew.

Again, the parents went to the hospital and attempted to wash their hands and put on gowns to see their newborn son.

“But we were told that was not necessary. We didn’t have to do that. The bacteria had led to sepsis and we were told ‘it happens’. He died that evening,” she said.

His time of death was 5 p.m.

The couple were informed two hours later.

The cause of death was given as cardiopulmonary arrest, pulmonary haemorrhage, sepsis (pseudomonas).

The mother said her world shattered when baby Matthew died.

“I could not understand what happened. My heart broke, my family was broken. We had a healthy baby boy,” she said.

Ramdass said she was advised to register the baby’s death at the San Fernando Teaching Hospital the following day.

“I arrived at around 9 a.m. I was told that was the third baby to have died that night of the same cause,” she said.

A funeral was held for baby Matthew at Belgroves Funeral Home in San Fernando. He was dressed in a cream and brown suit and placed in a tiny coffin.

Counselling was offered

Ramdass said the funeral home offered counselling for her family.

The South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) never contacted her, after her son’s body was removed from the mortuary.

“I found out the process to get my son’s medical records but mentally I could not go through with it. Now that I am seeing the same thing happening to so many babies, I also want to know what happened in that NICU and how my son died,” she said.

The Express reached out to officials of the SWRHA yesterday but there was no immediate response.

A WhatsApp message was sent to SWRHA chief executive officer Dr Brian Armour asking what was the infant mortality rate at the RHA in recent years.

There was no immediate response.