An inquest into the death of a premature baby opened today in Bury St Edmunds.
Freddie James Wheeler-Bridges died in Addenbrooke’s Hospital on September 29 at nine-days-old, after being delivered at 31 weeks.
His sister Ruby had also died, aged six months, after being born prematurely at 25 weeks, in October 2010.
Freddie’s parents, Jamie Bridges and Amy Wheeler, spoke to the Bury Free Press at the time of their devastation at losing two babies within two years.
Today’s inquest heard how Amy’s pregnancy with Freddie had been fine until a heart scan on August 31 at West Suffolk Hospital showed a fully developed but enlarged heart. In a report to the inquest, the parents said they were told this was ‘probably nothing to worry about’ but to return later for another scan.
On September 5, 2011, Amy was found to have high blood pressure and traces of protein in her urine and was given medication. The inquest was told that doctors wanted to be ‘extra careful’ knowing that Amy had had severe pre-eclampsia while pregnant with Ruby and, on seeing the condition begin to develop again, made plans to deliver Freddie early.
He was delivered by Caesarian section at West Suffolk on September 20, weighing 3lbs 7oz.
Reading from a statement, Suffolk Coroner Dr Peter Dean said Freddie’s parents felt he was so active during pregnancy that they did not believe he had been born with a life-threatening illness.
He said they had both heard Freddie crying at birth.
“He looked so well, had bright pink skin and was looking at us,” they said.
Dr Wilf Kendall, consultant neonatologist from Addenbrooke’s, told the inquest there may have been a ‘honeymoon period’ at the time of birth but that the baby’s condition had subsequently deteriorated. Freddie had been transferred to Addenbrooke’s because of increased multi organ problems.
He had suffered a series of medical issues after his birth.
The inquest was told how his respiratory problems ‘settled completely’ after being intubated and ventilated about four hours after birth, but that he had anaemia and jaundice and suffered ‘multi system’ organ failure.
Pathologist Dr Flora Jessop, who carried out a post-mortem examination on Freddie, told the inquest his liver was ‘strikingly abnormal’.
The inquest also heard how a cannula was misplaced in Freddie’s liver while he was at West Suffolk, and was subsequently removed.
Mr Dean said concerns had been raised over the possible ‘introduction of something’ due to the misplacement and that it raised the possibility of ‘a healthcare-induced injury rather than a natural illness’.
The inquest continues.