Father's plea over baby feed death

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Media captionRaaid Sakkijha has spoken about the death of his son Yousef from suspected contaminated feed

The father of a nine-day-old baby who died after contracting a bacterial infection from a suspected contaminated hospital feed has said he does not want more children to die.

Yousef Al-Kharboush died on Sunday at St Thomas' Hospital in London.

His father Raaid Hassan Sakkijha said his son had suffered but he hoped other children would be saved.

Officials revealed 21 babies, many premature, are now known to have been infected at a number of hospitals.

Speaking after a hearing at Southwark Coroner's Court, Mr Sakkijha revealed Yousef, born eight weeks premature, had a twin. The baby's condition is unknown.

The coroner ruled a post-mortem examination would not be performed on Yousef, from London Bridge, central London, following a request from his family.

Mr Sakkijha told the BBC the family had had excellent care from the hospital but there had been an "unlucky incident".

Asked how he felt, he said: "If you have a child, you'll know."

Speaking at a pre-inquest review at Southwark Coroner's Court, Mr Sakkijha, who has two other children, aged 10 and seven, said his child had been "suffering", adding: "My son has died and I hope he will be able to save other children. I hope the other children are getting well.

"I was hoping to hear production of this product would completely stop until this report was out."

Intensive care

Three further cases were revealed by Public Health England (PHE) on Friday.

PHE said it had been working with neonatal units which had received the feed and looked at other babies' case records to check for signs of infection.

This has led to earlier cases being included in the total.

The babies, who became unwell last week or over the weekend, are responding to antibiotic treatment.

Experts said that, because of the time that has passed since the product expired, there was a "very small" chance of further cases emerging.

Image copyright Blair Seitz
Image caption The Bacillus cereus bacterium is present on most surfaces and can contaminate food

What is Bacillus cereus?

  • A type of bacterium that produces toxins that cause two types of illness
  • The most common form causes nausea and vomiting
  • The symptoms may start one to six hours after eating contaminated food
  • It is commonly found in dust, soil and vegetation and is likely to be on most surfaces
  • The poison is not passed from one person to another and symptoms do not usually last longer than a day
  • Less common is an illness which causes fever and diarrhoea
  • These symptoms, which may be serious, usually start six to 24 hours after eating and can last for one or two days

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said it had inspected the premises of ITH Pharma, the company that manufactured the feed.

Gerald Heddell, the MHRA's director of inspection, enforcement and standards, said: "Based on the information we currently have, we believe this is an isolated incident and the appropriate immediate action has been taken at ITH Pharma's facility to avoid a reoccurrence.

"Therefore we are allowing this critical product to be supplied to patients while our investigation proceeds."

He added: "At this stage we believe the facility is operating in accordance with Good Manufacturing Practice guidelines but further inspections will be made as part of our ongoing investigation."

On Thursday, the manufacturer of the feed, ITH Pharma, said it was "saddened" by what had happened and was cooperating fully with the investigation.

It had been suggested that one of the raw ingredients in the feed could have been the source of the contamination.

However the MHRA said on the evidence available that did not appear to be the case.

Liquid feed

The affected babies are being cared for at 10 hospitals in England.

All the infected babies were being fed a liquid mixture of nutrients directly into their bloodstream, which happens when newborns are unable to eat on their own.

Public Health England said the babies developed septicaemia or blood poisoning from the Bacillus cereus bacterium, which has been "strongly linked" to an intravenous fluid supplied by ITH Pharma.

They were being cared for in neonatal intensive care units and the surviving infants are said to be responding to antibiotic treatment.

The contaminated batches of feed have since been withdrawn, although as they expired on Monday none should have been used since then.

A total of 162 units of the feed were sent out from the contaminated batches to more than 20 hospitals. It is possible other cases will emerge as tests are carried out.

The cases have been reported at:

  • Chelsea and Westminster NHS Trust (four confirmed, one possible)
  • Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust (three confirmed)
  • The Whittington Hospital (one confirmed)
  • Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust (three confirmed)
  • CUH Addenbrookes (Cambridge University Hospitals) (two confirmed, one possible)
  • Luton and Dunstable University Hospital (two confirmed)
  • Peterborough City Hospital (one confirmed)
  • Southend University Hospital (one probable)
  • Stoke Mandeville Hospital (one probable)
  • Basildon University Hospital (one possible)

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