Isaiah Haastrup: Inquest hears of ‘midwifery failings’ during birth of baby at centre of right-to-life battle

Josh Salisbury (19 August, 2020)

Baby Isaiah Haastrup tragically died after his parents lost a lengthy legal battle against King's College Hospital over withdrawing his ventilator

18536Isaiah Haastrup (left), and Lanre Haastrup and Takesha Thomas stood in front of King's College Hospital in 2017

A baby who was at the centre of a right-to-life battle may have been born less severely brain damaged if it weren’t for midwife failings at King’s College Hospital, an inquest has heard.

Isaiah Haastrup was tragically born profoundly brain damaged in February 2017 as a result of a rare obstetrics emergency which left him deprived of oxygen.

His parents Lanre Haastrup and Takesha Thomas, both from Peckham, had fought an unsuccessful legal battle against the hospital over removing life support from their little boy.

The High Court ruled that withdrawing treatment was in Isaiah’s best interest in March 2018.

An inquest at Southwark Coroner’s Court into the little boy’s death heard how an internal investigation found a junior midwife was overwhelmed with the situation she faced, and other more experienced midwives did not recognise the severity of the emergency.

Isaiah suffered brain damage at birth due to lack of oxygen

“They all failed to associate the difficulty in locating the foetal heart with anything other than an active baby who was in a difficult position,” the court heard.

“The junior midwife was overwhelmed with the situation she was presented with, and midwives who came and went who were more experienced also didn’t take the most appropriate action,” the report said.

Midwives struggled to locate a heartbeat on the CTG machine, which delayed the delivery of baby Isaiah, the inquest heard.

If he had been delivered sooner, “this would not have resulted in a delivery of a completely healthy baby but … the ensuing neurological injury may have been less severe.”

The inquest heard evidence from medical experts from both inside and outside the trust prepared over the course of the year Isaiah was on life-support, which claimed he would not be able to survive independently without ventilation.

This evidence is disputed by the family, who pointed to the fact their son appeared to breathe for seven hours after being removed from his ventilator, and that medical experts consulted had not been given a chance to revise their evidence following Isaiah’s death.

Takesha Thomas and her son Isaiah at King’s College Hospital in 2017

A “significant mismatch” between Isaiah’s parents’ perceptions of their little boy’s health and medical professionals led to an erosion of trust, the inquest heard.

“Isaiah sustained profound neurological disabilities as a result of alleged substandard care received at the time of his birth which has understandably left his parents devastated,” an expert report said.

“They feel absolutely let down by the healthcare system and are understandably critical of the standard of care received at the time of birth and have good reason to be angry.”

A senior hospital official, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the court that the trust accepted it would be fair to say a more senior midwife should’ve been allocated on the ward and that there was a “loss of situational awareness.”

Mum and Dad, Lanre Haastrup and Takesha Thomas at King’s College Hospital

A number of changes surrounding midwifery training have been made in the trust since the high-profile case, Southwark Coroner’s Court was told.

“This incident has changed my professional practice,” said the official. “And it’s changed how we train our midwives, how we manage our junior midwives, and your son Mr Haastrup is a part of that story. His story will always live on with us here.”

The coroner did not record a conclusion at the hearing on July 30, after counsel for the family notified the court they may pursue a judicial review over the inquest.

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