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Inquest into death of four-day-old baby from Gravesend

Old Town Hall in Gravesend
Old Town Hall in Gravesend

A two-day inquest into the tragic death of a four-day-old baby born at Darent Valley Hospital is being heard today.

Vincent Rewers was delivered by ventouse, a vacuum-like device, at the hospital on October 4, 2012.

He died at King's College Hospital on October 8 from a brain injury and subdural haematoma - a serious brain condition when blood collects between the skull and the surface of the brain and is often caused by a head injury.

Consultant paediatric pathologist Liina Kiho told the hearing at Gravesend's Old Town Hall that it was "probable" that the instrumental delivery was a significant cause for the baby's head injury.

However, other medical experts described Vincent's birth as an "easy" delivery requiring just two pulls with the ventouse.

He was said to be healthy with no visible markings to his head.

The inquest heard Vincent would have been the first baby for Karolina Rewers and Louis Rogers, from Gravesend.

The pregnancy had progressed "unremarkably" until 37 weeks when it was discovered Miss Rewers, 23, was small for her dates.

A scan was arranged for October 6, 2012, but she went into labour on October 3.

The decision was eventually taken by a doctor to deliver Vincent by ventouse as a result of foetal distress in the early hours of October 4.

However, Miss Rewers later reported once on a ward at the hospital that her son was not feeding and had asymmetry to his face. His blood sugar levels were also low.

Vincent was admitted to Darent Valley's neonatal unit the following day. He suffered several fits and a CT scan was ordered.

The results were discussed with King's College Hospital and it was agreed he should be transferred to the London hospital.

However, it was five hours before Vincent arrived at King's College. By this stage he was said to be brain dead on the left-hand side of his brain.

Darent Valley Hospital. Picture: Nick Johnson
Darent Valley Hospital. Picture: Nick Johnson

Dr Tushar Vince, consultant paediatrician, said: "The difficulty I have experienced with paediatric brain injuries is that children just have an irrepressible ability to survive.

"So one child with complete infarction (tissue death caused by lack of oxygen) at that point should have got to us as soon as possible to give him the best possible chance of intervention if he should require it."

She added: "I recall there was quite a while between my knowing of Vincent and him arriving to me. In this particular case I just cannot tell you if the outcome would have been different.

"My instinct is that it wouldn't have been different. I think the outcome would have been the same but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to do what was is right."

Dr Vince also told the inquest that by the time Vincent did arrive, the neurosurgery team decided that intervention was not possible because of a "substantial risk" he would not survive.

She added that if Vincent had pulled through surgery, he would have been left with profound disabilities, including being unable to walk, speak or see.

While she agreed that it was "uncommon" for a child with a subdural haematoma to need intensive care, Dr Vince said "alarm bells" should have been ringing when Vincent had several fits.

The hearing continues.

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