The family of a baby who tragically died just five weeks after birth have paid tribute to their ‘little sunflower’. Sophia Mannan was born just after 29 weeks by an ’emergency’ Caesarean section on August 6 last year, but sadly died on September 14.
Sophia was the second child of Abdul Mannan and Sarah Farkas, of Oldham, with everything ‘fine’ during most of the pregnancy. This was until August 5 when Abdul and Sarah noticed Sophia wasn’t moving as much as usual.
They went to the Royal Oldham Hospital the next day where it was found Sophia had an irregular heartbeat. Staff decided that Sarah should be placed onto a ‘category two’ C-section, meaning she should be seen within 75 minutes.
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The family raised concerns about being placed into category two and not category one at the inquest at Rochdale Coroners’ Court, as category one would have meant the procedure was done sooner. Staffing issues at the trust and August 6 being a particularly busy day were also raised during the hearing.
Pediatric histopathologist Dr Melanie Newbould was able to determine a cause of death for Sophia as hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy, brain damage which resulted from not enough oxygen getting to Sophia’s brain. It is not known exactly when this could have happened, especially as the pregnancy seemed to be going fine.
This meant Sophia was born with ‘no respiratory drive,’ Dr Newbould said, and her situation ‘never improved’. Sophia was placed on a ventilator after birth, but there was no improvement to her health.
Doctors and midwives who dealt with Sarah and the birth that day said the procedure itself was uneventful but Sarah was raised as a concern and they wanted to give birth sooner rather than later due to Sophia’s abnormal heart rate. Helen Thomas, a midwife at the trust, said in a statement: “Due to how busy it was she (Sarah) could not be transferred as quickly as we would have liked.”
She commented that the hospital had a lack of staff that for how busy it was that day with some people working beyond their hours to help out. Ms Thomas added that Sophia’s brain was in a ‘poor condition’ after birth, but this can be expected with children born early.
A Dr Diah from the Northern Care Alliance who did a case review into Sophia’s death said that the decision to put Sarah into category two was ‘perhaps wrong’. However, Sophia was likely to have had a ‘significant insult to the nervous system’ anyway.
The court heard that Sophia could have been born at least 20 minutes sooner if Sarah had been placed in category one. “We have addressed these concerns with staff and talked about how the C-section should have been category one.
“It’s harder to address nation wide staffing issues, it is not something that can be solved easily. Two staff did stay on beyond their shift to help out.”
Coroner Michael Salt concluded that Sophia died of ‘natural causes’. “It has been recognized that this should have been designated in a different category, but it would have made very little difference. But it is right that this inquiry was carried out. These were very distressing events overall for the family.”
Abdul and Sarah paid tribute to Sophia following the hearing, saying: “The whole situation has been very tough and it still is. Something needs to be done about the lack of staff the hospital needs to sort the shortage of staff because it shouldn’t be like that, especially on a ward like labor ward.
“We all love our supergirl. She fought so much since she was born and never got too see what we looked like, but she will be truly missed always and forever our little sunflower.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.