Baby’s liver dis­ease not picked up

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS -

A Porirua baby might have lived if his liver dis­ease had been picked up in the first cou­ple of weeks of his life.

But doc­tors failed to raise the alarm un­til he was 12 weeks old, by which time his dis­ease was ag­gres­sive and ad­vanced, the Coroner’s Court heard last week.

The baby boy, whose name was sup­pressed by coroner Deb­o­rah Mar­shall, died in March 2013 aged 5 months af­ter a failed liver trans­plant. He had bil­iary atre­sia, a rare liver dis­ease af­fect­ing six to eight New Zealand ba­bies an­nu­ally.

The baby’s symp­toms, jaun­dice and frothy yel­low-green poo, were noted by his mid­wife and men­tioned by his mother at GP con­sul­ta­tions when he was 6 and 8 weeks old, but no blood test was or­dered.

Plim­mer­ton Med­i­cal Cen­tre GP Brian Wes­ley-Smith said he rec­om­mended a blood test to the baby’s mother. She de­nied this.

Very few GPs would ever come across bil­iary atre­sia and it was no sur­prise Wes­ley-Smith had never heard of it, said Star­ship Hospi­tal pae­di­atric hep­a­tol­o­gist Stephen Mouat, who cared for the boy from his ar­rival at Star­ship on Jan­uary 2, 2013. Still, the baby’s liver should have felt odd at 8 weeks, he said.

If the baby’s jaun­dice had raised flags at 2 weeks old, a by­pass oper­a­tion could have been done, de­lay­ing a full liver trans­plant till he was older and more ro­bust, Mouat said. The coroner re­served her de­ci­sion.

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