A mum says critical issues with her “happy, smiling” baby girl should have been picked up sooner by hospital staff.
Kim Mullins gave birth to her daughter Reenie-May on July 1, 2020 at Chesterfield Royal Hospital.
She said it took a further seven months for major concerns about Reenie’s welfare, including the need for multiple urgent surgeries, to be identified.
Miss Mullins said this was only achieved after she rushed Reenie to Sheffield Children’s Hospital in mid-February, 2021, a day after being discharged from Chesterfield Royal after a one-night stay.
She says Reenie’s conditions should have been caught sooner and she wonders what would have happened if Reenie had not become more ill in February, Derbyshire Live reports.
Staff at Sheffield Children’s Hospital diagnosed Reenie with an anorectal malformation which had left her unable to poo.
This caused multiple issues, including strain on her vital organs, for a baby who had been flagged for paediatric alert before her birth.
Miss Mullins, from Tibshelf, wants to raise more awareness about anorectal malformations and has allowed Sheffield Children’s Hospital to video and photograph stages of Reenie’s condition and treatment as part of a national campaign.
She said that she understands risks posed by Covid means Reenie could not be seen regularly but says her conditions still should have been identified.
Miss Mullins said: “It should have been picked up on her newborn checks in the first place and she should have had her stoma straight away rather than as late as she did.
“I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if she hadn’t become that poorly in February and I hadn’t kept telling anyone who would listen to my concerns.
“She’s doing OK now, but unfortunately she’s behind developmentally. She is 15 months and not walking yet and she’s only 17lb in weight, so is under the dietician – but she never stops smiling despite everything she’s been through.”
Miss Mullins said that the pain of Reenie’s conditions had been causing the newborn to scream for hours on end for more than six months.
She had been kept in hospital for two weeks after her birth due to jaundice, but no other ailments were discovered.
A local GP, unable to see or treat Reenie in person due to the risks presented by Covid to an already seriously ill baby, prescribed milk, Gaviscon and colic drops, but to no effect.
In January and February this included the prescription of laxatives because Reenie was struggling to poo, with Miss Mullins’ concerns growing.
In mid-February, Reenie and Miss Mullins were admitted to Chesterfield Royal after the young baby was presenting with a high temperature and an inability to poo.
Blood tests were not carried out.
A doctor told Miss Mullins that Reenie’s anus had effectively closed over – a condition known as an anterior anus.
The following day, Miss Mullins and Reenie were discharged with a referral to the Sheffield Children’s Hospital for an appointment in a few weeks’ time.
Miss Mullins says she was not happy to be discharged due to Reenie’s continued high temperature.
The next day, Miss Mullins rushed Reenie to Sheffield Children’s Hospital and blood tests were promptly carried out.
She was later diagnosed with anorectal malformation with a fistula, a condition that occurs in around one in every 5,000 babies.
Sheffield staff had to create a stoma – opening from the bowels to the outside of the body – to enable Reenie to relieve her bowels. Further scans found a hole in Reenie’s heart and a tethered spinal cord – both of which required surgery.
Staff found that a sacral dimple on Reenie’s spine, an indicator of spinal issues, was missed in previous examinations.
Reenie has now had corrective surgery to her anus and her stoma – which had allowed her relieve her bowels through an attached colostomy bag – has now been reversed.
A spokesperson for the Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “It is always disappointing to hear about occasions when patients or their relatives feel that the exceptional standard of care we strive to provide is not met.
“Our maternity and paediatric teams work very closely together, holding weekly multi-disciplinary team meetings where staff caring for pregnant women, their babies and their families discuss what current and follow up care is needed for each patient.
“We are very sorry that Kim feels the level of care given to Reenie-May has not met the standards that she expects.
“We value working with families to understand more about their experiences and our clinical teams would very much welcome the opportunity to speak with Kim and her family about her daughter’s care.”