The doctors let my baby die


Screaming in agony, Johanne Rees, 48, begged hospital staff to give her a Cesarean and save her baby. But staff failed to acknowledge that she was in labour and instead simply told to her to go to the toilet. Here Johanne shares the harrowing moments that her baby’s life was taken and their fight to get justice…

The doctors let my baby die

Staring down at the blue line, I couldn’t believe it.

Krishna and I had finally done it, we were having a baby.

After trying for six years and going through one miscarriage, I really thought I would never get the chance to hold my own child.

I was 44 and had always put off having kids, choosing to concentrate on my career but I had finally been given a chance to start a family with the man I loved.

Beaming from ear to ear I dialled Krishna’s number in India and told him we were having a baby.

He couldn’t contain his excitement and secretly hoped it would be a little boy.

I had meet Krishna in a beach hut in Goa, in November 1999, while on a last minute holiday with a friend.

After chatting for hours we had such a good time together, I agreed to go back to Goa and visit him again.

I never thought it would be anything but a holiday romance, but after three separate visits, we both realised there was a real spark between us and I moved to Goa to be with him.

After three years in India I began to miss my career and moved back to Hertfordshire, where Krishna came to visit whenever he could.

In June 2005 I realised that I had missed two periods.

I didn’t want to get my hopes up, so after I double-checked the test, I went to the doctor’s to be 100% sure.

My dream had finally come true.

I was ten weeks pregnant.

However, suddenly at 18 weeks, just sitting at home, fluid suddenly gushed out of me.

I couldn’t believe it, my waters had broken.

I wasn’t ready to give birth yet, what was happening to me and my baby?

“Your baby has no fluid to protect him,” the doctors told me.

My baby was breech and I was going to need a Caesarean.

On the Friday 19th November, in the 32nd week of my pregnancy I went to visit my mum.

Krishna was not due back from India till the last few weeks of the pregnancy, so it was nice to have some company.

Suddenly I doubled over in pain and all I could think about was my baby.

My mum rang the hospital and frantically explained what was happening to me.

As I was rushed to the maternity ward, I was screamed in agony.

My baby was in distress and my mother’s instinct told me that we had to get my baby out.

My midwife was nowhere to be seen but a doctor finally came to my rescue, or so I thought.

To my horror he refused to believe that I was in labour and told me that I just needed the toilet!

“It’s just something you have eaten.”

After sitting on the loo for a few minutes, it was very obvious that I didn’t need the toilet.

Why weren’t they doing anything?

Had they not read my notes?

“What is happening I screamed!?”

My midwife was still nowhere to be seen and I was left alone in pain, watching my child’s heart rate drop rapidly.

Dragging myself across the floor I managed to make my way to the corridor, screaming for someone to help me.

“I need a Caesarean. Please someone, help me,” I screamed over and over again.

After an hour and a half of what seemed like pure hell, a second consultant finally arrived.

She knew that I needed help immediately.

“We have to deliver this child now!” I heard as they finally whisked me away to save my baby.

It had taken over an hour of my constant harrowing screams for someone to help me.

But it wasn’t over yet.

In the theatre under general atheistic, I watched as one anaesthetist pushed another colleague aside because he was too inexperienced to insert the needle into my spine.

Half an hour later they finally delivered my baby and took me to recovery.

I was all alone and had no idea whether my baby was healthy, what sex it was or whether it was going to survive.

“You’ve had a little boy but he’s very poorly. You better come and see him.”

Haemorrhaging from my operation I thought they would give me a wheelchair, but instead they let me climb up two floors to the baby unit, bleeding every step of the way.

Seeing my little baby boy in his tiny incubator, I needed answers.

Why was he on a life support machine?

Why did my baby need resuscitating?

At first they told me that he had lobe damage and would develop a bit slower than other children his age but I didn’t care.

As long as he was happy, that was all that mattered.

I rang Krishna from the delivery room and explained that we’d had a little boy but he was not well.

Devastated and in shock Krishna tried to get a flight as quick as he could.

Within twenty minutes of Krishna arriving at the hospital we were told that there was no hope.

We were both in complete shock and disbelief.

How could they let that happen to my precious little boy?

I’d screamed at the top of my lungs that my baby was in danger but no one had listened to me.

“If you keep Arun alive, his life and your life will be hideous”, we were told by the second consultant.

Ten days after our baby boy was born, we had to turn his life support machine off.

Krishna pressed the fatal button and ended our baby’s life.

We spent every single moment we had with him but knowing that we were ending our baby’s life was the most horrific thing I have ever had to go through.

At 2pm we sat and waited for hospital staff to arrive. At 2.45pm we were still waiting.

They hadn’t even bothered to turn up to end my baby’s life.

Unable to bear the pain and pure anger anymore I marched down to the staff room.

The lack of support and dismissive behaviour from hospital staff was unbearable.

How could they be so cruel?

One nurse however did understand and stood by us as we turned off Arun’s life support machine.

He survived for 11 hours and we held our little man for every last second.

“Just go now Arun, go please,” Krishna said to him.

He couldn’t bear to see our son in pain and couldn’t come to terms with what was happening.

The last few moments of Arun’s life broke us.

We watched as our son gasped desperately for his last few breaths of air.

Then he was gone.

He passed away in Krishna’s arms, leaving us forever.

Leaving the hospital without my child, we waited for the inquest to determine why we had lost Arun.

The inquest discovered that because of delays to Arun’s birth he was starved of oxygen, and left with irreversible brain damage.

The hospital had let me baby die.

The next three years were an endless battle to get justice for Arun.

I had dreams that I picked up a scalpel and delivered him myself, every week.

Krishna and I started to blame each other and our relationship began to show cracks.

I became bitter and hostile and had to seek therapy to come to terms with the hate that filled me.

But we eventually came through it together.

Finally, in 2008 the hospital admitted responsibility and gave us £160,000 compensation.

It will never bring Arun back and it hasn’t ended any of my pain and hurt but at least we finally have justice for our little boy.

I miss my precious son every day and know that he was probably my last chance of ever having a family.

I just hope that another woman never has to go through what I went through.


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