South West Wales

Baby death inquest: Rohan Rhodes's ventilator 'removed too early'

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Media captionRohan Rhodes was born 14 weeks early

A premature baby's ventilator was removed too soon by hospital staff, his parents told an inquest into his death.

Rohan Rhodes from Narberth, Pembrokeshire, was born 14 weeks early at Singleton Hospital, Swansea, in 2012 and was transferred to St Michael's Hospital, Bristol, for surgery.

Alex and Bronwyn Rhodes told the coroner's court near Bristol that Rohan's feeding tubes were inserted "aggressively" and caused him pain.

Their son died aged five weeks.

Mrs Rhodes told the inquest at Flax Bourton she was initially delighted Rohan had been taken off the ventilator, but Mr Rhodes believed "something wasn't right" with the boy's care.

Image copyright Metro News and Features Agency
Image caption The inquest was told Rohan's feeding tubes were inserted 'aggressively' and caused him pain

The couple said they were concerned a nurse did not wear gloves when handling Rohan's feeding tube and became worried a day later when he looked exhausted and his oxygen dependency had increased.

Mrs Rhodes said her son was a healthy and active baby, despite being premature, and had consistently put on weight after he was born.

Watching in 'horror'

A team of leading doctors had told the couple they had no plans to stop Rohan's ventilation during a handover meeting the day after he was admitted.

But he was later removed from the machine and placed on a breathing mask.

His conditioned worsened and his heart rate began to fall, the inquest heard.

Mrs Rhodes said: "We were terrified and were watching all this in horror. He was so pale and lifeless during this time, we were terrified we were losing him."

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Media captionBronwyn Rhodes spoke to reporters after the first day of the inquest

Doctors apologised and he was put back on the machine, but he never recovered and was unable to have surgery he needed to repair an open heart duct.

Recalling her son's final moments, Mrs Rhodes wept: "I asked them to stop compressions, but they were not able to remove all the lines so I couldn't hold him.

"He died in his incubator, swollen beyond belief."

A pathologist told the inquest he found multiple perforations to Rohan's bowel and said the likely cause of death was acute peritonitis and pneumonia.

The hospital is part of the same trust as Bristol Children's Hospital, which is the subject of a new investigation into the deaths of several children over the past three years.

Robert Woolley, chief executive of University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We would like to offer our sincere condolences to the Rhodes family for the loss of their son, Rohan.

"The coroner will conduct a thorough and independent inquiry into the death of this child and we are committed to working with her to provide all the information she needs to do this.

"It would not be appropriate for us to comment further until the inquest has concluded."

The hearing continues.

Image copyright Metro News and Features Agency
Image caption Rohan's coffin was made by his father using wood intended to make his first cot

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