Page last updated at 05:45 GMT, Tuesday, 13 October 2009 06:45 UK

Couple compensated for baby death


Johanne Rees had to wait for more than two hours before being given an emergency caesarean

A couple have been paid £160,000 in compensation after their son suffered fatal brain damage following critical delays by staff at his birth.

Midwives at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, failed to spot Johanne Rees's unborn baby was in distress.

Ms Rees, 32 weeks into a "high risk" pregnancy, was told by a doctor she was not in labour but needed a toilet.

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, formerly Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust, has apologised unreservedly.

Ms Rees, from Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan, and her partner, Krishna Govekar, switched off the life support machine for their son, Arun Rees Govekar after 10 days.

Guy Forster, of Cardiff legal firm Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, said: "Although baby Arun was premature he was well developed and experts have confirmed that in all likelihood he would have survived had the staff taken appropriate action."

Ms Rees, who had previously had a miscarriage, was admitted on 19 November 2005 with abdominal pains.

Then aged 44, she had been under the care of the hospital's Fetal Medicine Unit since her waters had broken at 18 weeks.

In the legal case brought against the health board, she said her labour was not properly monitored for more than two hours and heart readings clearly showing that her unborn baby was in distress were not spotted.

I just couldn't understand why they weren't doing anything to help me and my baby
Johanne Rees

She said: "I just couldn't understand why they weren't doing anything to help me and my baby. At my last antenatal visit I was told my baby was breech and I would need a caesarean section.

"It was a 'no brainer' - I knew my baby needed to be delivered urgently.

"I couldn't believe it when a doctor arrived and said I wasn't ready to deliver but had probably eaten something that had disagreed with me and to try going to the toilet instead."

'Sincere condolences'

An emergency caesarean was performed an hour-and-a-half later on a second doctor's recommendation and baby Arun was taken to the special baby care unit.

The baby had been starved of oxygen during the birth and had suffered irreversible brain damage.

Ms Rees, now 48, and Mr Govekar said their lives had been completely "devastated" by the death of their son.

Ms Rees said: "Arun was a precious, much wanted baby.

"Losing Arun has completely devastated us both and it's difficult to come to terms with his loss even now."

Katie Norton, the health board's director of primary services, said the health board offered its sincere condolences to the couple.

She said: "This was an exceptional and difficult case and we have worked with the staff to learn lessons.

"Whenever there is a poor outcome for patients, we conduct an internal investigation with the staff involved and this then informs the response to a complaint.

"We responded immediately to the complaint from Ms Rees and apologised at the time for the loss of Arun and for the distress caused as she and Mr Govekar had to revisit the events of his birth. "

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