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Baby dies – family alleges hospital negligence

THE death of a baby boy is to be investigated after a Buffalo Flats family alleged negligence by staff at an East London clinic.

An inquest docket was opened at Buffalo Flats police station after the death of a newborn child – Junior Solomon – at Empilweni Day Clinic in Gompo last Friday.

Police spokesperson Captain Stephen Marais confirmed yesterday that an inquest docket was opened.

This after an autopsy report stated the baby had died of “blunt trauma to the head”, contradicting a report given to the child’s parents by Empilweni staff.

The Empilweni report described the cause of the baby’s death as “asphyxiation”.

Mother Laurika Smith alleged that due to negligence by staff at Empilweni Day Clinic staff in Gompo her newborn son had been fatally injured.

Provincial Health Department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said the family should lodge a complaint with the department if the case is to be investigated. He could not comment further. Health Superintendent-general Dr Siva Pillay could not be reached.

Smith said she went into labour last Friday morning, and was admitted to Empilweni Day Clinic. She said she had a healthy, full-term pregnancy.

“They (the hospital nurses) told me to walk up and down the hospital corridors, even when I told them that it was too painful and the baby was coming.

“As I walked down the corridor I felt weak and as my legs gave in, the baby came out of me,” Smith said.

She alleged that there were no nurses nearby to assist her and as a result, baby Junior allegedly hit his head on the corridor floor.

“I wrapped him up in my clothes and sat there with him in my arms. He looked around with his little eyes open for a while.”

Smith said.

Only then did nurses come to help her, the woman alleged.

Smith estimated she held Junior for roughly five minutes before nursing staff took him away, after which she claimed she was left to sit in her own blood with her placenta “half hanging out” of her body.

“With all of this stuff still hanging out of my body, I had to climb onto the bed on my own with all of this pain,” Smith alleged.

The baby’s father, Johan Solomon, said he later saw Junior’s “little heart beat” as he struggled to breathe while nursing staff tried to resuscitate the child.

He died 50 minutes after being born.

Fifty minutes after Junior was born, he was dead.

The baby’s notification of death, of which the Dispatch has a copy, was signed by an on-duty doctor at Empilweni on Friday, January 7.

The document stated Junior died a “natural death” of “asphyxiation”.

A notice completed by the Woodbrook mortuary, following a post-mortem, however stated the cause of death as “head injuries due to blunt trauma to the head”.

This was confirmed by a Woodbrook staffer, who said Junior had bleeding on the brain.

“Even if the baby did die of asphyxiation, that is an unnatural death,” the staffer said.

An Empilweni clinic nurse said the doctor on duty did not examine the baby’s body before signing off on the notification of death. She also confirmed that the baby did bump his head.

Both health department staffers asked to remain anonymous due to government communications policy, which prevents them from speaking to the media.

The funeral ceremony was held for Junior in Buffalo Flats on Wednesday.


Published in the Daily Dispatch on January 14, 2011.

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1 Response

  1. Wow… What a horrible story to have to read. That is awful that the nurses at that hospital would instruct her to walk down the halls and then simply let her child fall to the floor. It’s very sad to know that not every hospital has their patients best intention. I have a website that discusses a profession that works hospitals at and has some solid information to read if you have time to check it out. I appreciate you putting together this article, while it was very sad to read it was also very informational and eye-opening to the reality of things.