Parents ask to see ‘evidence of change’ as hospital apologises over baby’s death

21 July 2022

A couple whose baby died four days after his birth have said they want a Co Louth hospital, and the HSE in particular, to learn from the mistakes made.

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda apologised in the High Court on Tuesday to Danny Ryan’s parents, Brenda and Michael Ryan, for “deficits in care” as the couple settled an action relating to their son’s birth. The terms of the settlement are confidential.

In a statement outside court, the Ryans said too many people had stood in court before them with the same experience and devastating loss.

“If we had any advice for parents, it is to trust your gut at all times,” they said. “We challenge the HSE again today. We want to see evidence of change. No parent should have to make the decision to turn off their newborn baby’s life support.”

They added: “The HSE needs to start with open disclosure. The apology letter made no mention of striving for better maternity care. It made no mention of the coroner’s recommendation from 2020 and it made no mention of policy reform.”

Speaking outside the court, Ms Ryan said Danny had “suffered a terrible brain injury due to a lack of oxygen during a planned induction”.

“I repeatedly asked the hospital staff for help and told them I felt pain after the failed induction, but they would not listen to me,” she said. “I pleaded with them for assistance. Instead, I was dismissed and sent for a bath while our poor, perfect little baby was in awful distress. After waking up from the emergency C-section, I have no memory of even being told that Danny was a boy. It was 12 hours before we were told exactly how unwell Danny was. We were left in limbo.”

Ms Ryan said this delayed her meeting her baby until just before he was christened, which was moments before he was stable enough to be transferred to a Dublin hospital.

The Drogheda hospital, in a letter read to the court, said it wanted to sincerely apologise “for the deficits in care that were highlighted” in a review after Danny’s death five years ago.

The letter, from hospital general manager Fiona Brady, also extended sympathy on behalf of the hospital’s maternity services and management to the Ryans, from Allenstown, Kells, Co Meath, on the death of their baby in October 2017.

“I acknowledge the traumatic events which you, the parents and family experienced. We recognise that this loss has had a profound and devastating effect on you and your family. Once again, please accept our deepest sympathies to you on your very sad loss,” it added.

The Ryans had sued the HSE over the care received at the hospital. They said it took nearly five years to get justice.

“We don’t ever forget that our baby son Danny is at the centre of today. We are stronger people for having met him, for having held him, and we all continue to love Danny as a much-wanted first baby of the family,” they said in their statement.

“Danny continues to drive us forward every day and we hope that he will help other babies too because he became an organ donor when he donated his tiny heart valves. Our hearts will remain broken, although our smiles remain for you Danny and your beautiful little brothers.”

It was claimed that on September 28th, 2017 Ms Ryan, who was told she was not suitable for induction, was not advised of the possibility of a Caesarean section nor of the importance of delivery at term in patients with gestational diabetes. On October 12th, 2017 it was advised that Ms Ryan should be induced the next day but, as there were no places available, it was decided to induce her on the next available date, October 15th.

Ms Ryan was admitted on that date for induction, but labour did not progress. The next day she was told induction had failed and a Caesarean section would take place on October 17th. It was claimed Ms Ryan was not offered the possibility of an urgent Caesarean section nor advised of any risks associated with delay.

Just before midnight on October 16th, Danny was delivered and he needed to be resuscitated. He was transferred to a Dublin hospital where he died on October 20th, 2017.

Ms Ryan was found at 25 weeks of what had been her first pregnancy to be suffering from gestational diabetes. She attended the hospital on numerous occasions for check-ups.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Paul Coffey extended his deepest sympathy to the Ryan family.

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