A baby died after being starved of oxygen at birth following a series of medical blunders.
In the most tragic twist, doctors were mistakenly monitoring mum’s heart rate instead of baby Sadie Pye’s in the hours before delivery – something which, if picked up sooner, could’ve saved her life.
Her delivery was also delayed by several minutes when panicked midwives were unable to cut the umbilical cord.
Sadie’s mum Danielle Johnston spiraled into depression after little Sadie’s death and was left feeling suicidal.
Problems began when Danielle, now 31, was pregnant and noticed she was very large. Reminding doctors of a family history of diabetes, she was eventually checked and found to have gestational diabetes at around eight month’s pregnant.
Labour was induced because of risks associated to the condition and after her waters were broken, midwives noticed Sadie’s heart rate shoot up.
Danielle said: “I asked the midwife if she was OK. She said she was a little concerned but would keep an eye on it. It went back to normal 30 minutes later and I went on to gas and air for pain relief.
Danielle and Rob have faced a long battle to get justice for Sadie and they are relieved it is finally at an end.
“My contractions were really sporadic, not like they were with my older child, Lewis. A doctor came in to see me and said he would come back to check on Sadie’s heart rate but left me with the trainee midwife. He didn’t come back.
“I was in lots of pain so had an epidural but I kept going in and out of consciousness. It was weird and I knew something wasn’t right. A midwife noticed this and seemed to panic. She was looking at the CTG monitor (to monitor the baby’s heartbeat) and expressed concern.”
It was later revealed that staff had mistakenly been monitoring Danielle’s heartbeat rather than her unborn child’s.
When Sadie was due to be delivered, Danielle said she knew something was wrong when her partner started shouting: “I was informed that Sadie’s head was out and I remember Rob panicking asking why it was purple,” she added.
“She was born with shoulder dystocia. Only her head and one shoulder were out, the other shoulder was stuck inside. The midwives were trying to cut the cord and it was all really traumatic. The student midwife was told to cut the cord but she said she had never done it. Another midwife tried to cut it and couldn’t do it. It seemed to take a lifetime and I felt so helpless.”
When Sadie eventually emerged, she was passed to Danielle but her partner knew something was wrong immediately.
She added: “Rob noticed she wasn’t breathing straightaway. She was taken and passed between the midwives for some time before one of them eventually pulled the emergency cord for assistance. It had just been three midwives before but then a lot of nurses and doctors came in the room all trying to get her heart beat.
“We later found out that with shoulder dystocia you’re supposed to deliver the baby before cutting
Soon after, Danielle and Rob were told their daughter was being transferred from Royal Bolton Hospital to Arrowe Park Hospital.
Danielle added: “We didn’t know what was going on and, when we saw her, she was shivering in her cot. A doctor invited us into a meeting room to explain what had happened and said Sadie may have some brain damage but it was likely it would be very minor. He said she was shivering because she was on a cooling mat to help reduce longer term brain-damage. We knew she was sick but we were under the impression she would be OK.”
While travelling in a separate ambulance, the couple was informed that Sadie had had a cardiac arrest. The sirens were switched on and they raced to the hospital.
Doctors at Arrowe Park then told Danielle and Rob that Sadie had suffered severe brain damage due to being without oxygen during birth.
Danielle said: “They said she had been fitting and that’s why she was shaking when we saw her in her cot, not because of the cooling process. She had collapsed and was bleeding internally from her organs due to the lack of oxygen.”
After that, doctors switched off Sadie’s life support machine and distraught Danielle and Rob sat with her until she passed away.
Danielle added: “I was devastated. We knew she was sick but we were made to think that she would be OK. The Arrowe Park doctor told us that doctors at Royal Bolton knew how sick she was so to transfer her in that condition was an absolute disgrace. I really feel like they just wanted us out of the hospital.”
Experts later found that if Sadie’s heart rate would have been monitored correctly, doctors would have realised she was in distress and could have delivered her early.
Danielle added: “Her death and what happened didn’t hit me until I went home without my baby. All the stuff we’d bought for her was there and I just wanted to curl up and die.
“I just couldn’t accept what had happened and couldn’t deal with the fact she had died.”
Unable to go back to work because she couldn’t face the attention, Danielle, who lives in Salford, fell pregnant very quickly afterwards.
She added: “I wouldn’t change Bobbi for the world but she wasn’t planned and I wasn’t ready. I had such terrible anxiety. My mum brought Bobbi up for the first two years of her life. I had no attachment to my own daughter because of what happened. I was so scared something would happen to her.”
Desperately trying to move on with their lives, Danielle and Rob married but only six months after but their relationship has been strained by what they have been through.
Danielle added: “He couldn’t deal with me. I was too much for anybody. I had such bad anxiety I wouldn’t let my older son Lewis play out. I got to a point where I wanted to kill myself.
“Lewis was only four when Sadie died but since he’s got older he’s been affected more. School phoned me to say that he’d had a panic attack and we found out it was because they played a song that had been played at Sadie’s funeral.
“When Bobbi was born he came to the hospital. She was in my arms but he wouldn’t come near. When everyone had gone he said: “Mummy, is she sick? Is she going to come home with us?”
While she has learnt to deal with what has happened, Danielle says she never stops thinking of her baby girl who died in June 2011.
She added: “I’ve never been a big drinker but if a friend was going out for their birthday I’d go and have a few. I can’t do that anymore because I’m not a happy drunk, I just cry.
“When my best friend got pregnant I was really happy for her but my joy was over shadowed as I was so worried that something would happen to her or the baby. I never thought I’d feel pain like this ever.”
The Royal Bolton Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has since admitted the care given to Sadie and Danielle was negligent.
The Trust also recently settled a legal case brought against them by the family for an undisclosed sum.
Lauren Tully, a clinical negligence specialist from Slater and Gordon law firm, who represented the family, said: “Danielle and Rob have faced a long battle to get justice for Sadie and they are relieved it is finally at an end.
“It is deeply concerning that it wasn’t just one thing but a catalogue of errors that contributed to her tragic death and that is why it is so important that the Trust looks closely at what went wrong and what can be done to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”