‘Our miracle baby boy’

2009-01-30 00:00

The birth of Pietermaritzburg baby Virashlyn Ramsaroup-Harry shortly before Christmas has been hailed as a “miracle” by his extended family as he was not breathing at birth and was brought back to life through resuscitation.

But Virashlyn will never know a mother’s love because his mother, 27-year-old Rashika Ramsaroup, died on the operating table at Northdale Hospital at the time of his birth under circumstances that are under investigation by police, lawyers and the family.

Police confirmed that an inquest has been opened into the death and that specimens from Rashika’s body were sent to the histology department in Durban for testing, but it could be months before the results are available.

The results of a postmortem carried out on the body are also still outstanding.

Close relatives of the baby’s father, Adrian Harry, and the late Rashika Ramsaroup’s family have appointed local attorney Sergie Brimiah to act on their behalf.

Brimiah confirmed that a damages claim would be filed against the MEC for Health arising from Ramsaroup’s death.

Harry (whose sister, Amanda, is primarily taking care of little Virashlyn) is still devastated by his partner’s death.

His family said Ramsaroup was his “whole life” and that the couple had been together for nine years. They were planning a future together with little Virashlyn.

Harry told Weekend Witness he received counselling from a social worker at the hospital, and feels he is “handling it” at the moment.

“My son gives me strength to go on. I thank God that he is okay. When I see him he makes me happy,” he said.

Describing the tragedy, he said he still can’t quite believe what happened and for a while afterwards expected Ramsaroup to “come back to life”.

He said she was admitted to hospital the night before her death for a Caesarean section the next day to avoid a breech delivery.

Ramsaroup was looking forward to the birth of her first child and was relaxed.

Her brother, Radesh, and his wife, Usha, confirmed this, saying that when they visited her that night she was “fit and happy”.

“We were all looking forward to the new baby,” they said. But instead of the joy of Christmas with a newborn, the family ended up holding a prayer in memory of Ramsaroup.

Harry said he’d planned to be at Ramsaroup’s side when Virashlyn was born. The Caesarean section was scheduled for 3.30 pm on December 11 and he was already dressed and ready in his theatre clothing when a nurse entered the room adjacent to theatre. “She said she’s the anaesthetic doctor,” he told Weekend Witness.

Harry said the woman said she had to give Ramsaroup an injection (of dormicum) to calm her if she got excited. “I told her that it’s not necessary because she was calm and happy … She carried on and gave the injection.”

Within “seconds”, he said, Ramsaroup’s legs started kicking, her hands were shaking and he could see their baby moving rapidly about under the blankets. “I said to the nurse that something’s wrong, but she wasn’t worried. She said [Ramsaroup will] come right just now.”

Harry said he screamed for help from a woman who walked past and told her something was wrong. By then he could feel that Ramsaroup was not breathing.

The woman pulled the stretcher into theatre and he was told to wait where he was. No one explained what was going on.

Harry said that shortly after 4 pm he saw hospital staff come out carrying his baby. The baby had an oxygen mask and air was being pumped into him.

At 6 pm he was informed that Ramsaroup had been “stabilised” and he and her mother, Shakoon, were allowed in to theatre to see her. She was hooked up to breathing apparatus.

He was also told that arrangements were being made to transfer her to high care at Edendale Hospital, but before that happened, at 9.30 pm a doctor called him into a room and informed him that Ramsaroup had died.

“I went to see if he’s lying and then I saw the theatre covered in blood. Everything was full of blood: the blankets, the machines, her whole body, which was completely exposed, was covered in blood,” he said.

Health Department spokesman Sebe Zwane said in response to the allegations by Ramsaroup’s family that a preliminary investigation will be undertaken to determine what happened.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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