They’re 100% to blame ... they killed my baby
THE nursery was freshly painted and the cot newly built. Her hospital bag was packed with nappies and tiny sleepsuits, and she and her husband had picked out a name they both loved.
Throughout her relatively trouble-free pregnancy, Helen Fyfe joked that her biggest worry was whether or not she would get to the maternity ward in good time.
Yet what should have been a time of joy ended in tragedy when, just as doctors were preparing to deliver Olivia into the world, they had to break devastating news – they could no longer find a heartbeat and the baby would be stillborn.
For Mrs Fyfe, her immediate agony was made even worse by the gradual realisation that it was not just bad luck but also a string of blunders that had robbed her of her child.
For errors by medical staff meant that Olivia died without anyone even trying to save her.
When Mrs Fyfe was admitted to hospital, she had been attached to a foetal heart rate monitor to check on her unborn baby’s pulse.
The following day a decision was made to perform a caesarean – at which point the monitor was unhooked.
But the C-section was delayed for seven hours and, critically, the monitor was never re-attached.
As a result, nobody noticed that Olivia’s heart had stopped beating until surgeons eventually prepared to carry out the caesarean – by which time it was too late. Mrs Fyfe has now won an apology and a payout after NHS Forth Valley admitted it was ‘probable that Olivia would have survived’ had her
treatment been different. Five years on, cherished pictures of Olivia are displayed around the family home and Mrs Fyfe makes frequent visits to her daughter’s grave.
Last night Mrs Fyfe, 43, told The Scottish Mail on Sunday: ‘I blame them 100 per cent for what happened. They killed my baby. The frustrating thing is that they know the root causes of what went wrong.
‘The promises they made, the measures put in place, things they said they’d changed – it’s pure lies. It’s still happening.’
Mrs Fyfe’s pregnancy was straightforward until she felt her baby was moving less. She was admitted to Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert on October 29, 2012.
Instead of being monitored on the labour ward, Mrs Fyfe was put in a room on another ward.
At 9pm next day, amid concerns over the baby’s heart rate, civil servant Mrs Fyfe was told she would undergo immediate surgery and to summon her husband Gary, a 41-year-old labourer.
She said: ‘They took me off the heart monitor. But it wasn’t till about 4am that I was taken down and the monitor was never put back on. Olivia was alive at 9pm. It never even occurred to us she might die.
‘I was in theatre, I’d had the spinal and my husband was in his scrubs. Then the consultant said there was no heartbeat. I couldn’t believe what they were saying.
‘We were all set. The nursery had been freshly painted white, as we didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl, and we had just finished the cot the day before. We had a pram and lots of brand-new baby grows and hats.
‘During the pregnancy, I’d wondered would I make it to the hospital. Never once did I worry about the baby being stillborn.
‘They said surgery was an unnecessary risk and I would need to come back into hospital and deliver our baby naturally.
‘Gary was angry they wouldn’t continue with the section at the time but on reflection I am glad I delivered Olivia as that gave us such a special bond.
‘Up until Olivia was born, I still thought they might have got it wrong as I could still feel her moving.
‘Once I delivered Olivia, I asked my daughter Stephanie to check in case she was still alive – daft, I know, but you want to cling on to any hope that they may have got it wrong. They said that it was a
‘The promises they made, it’s pure lies’
communication error. The consultant had left instructions for me to get taken to theatre but I wasn’t.
‘The midwives came in, back and forward, through the night. We asked them what was happening. They said they were trying to get in touch with the consultant to find out. One report said that they did page her, but it was never answered.’
Mrs Fyfe, of Denny, Stirlingshire, suffered three subsequent miscarriages but went on to have a son, Rocco, 23 months, and also has an older daughter, Stephanie, 25.
She added: ‘You’ll never prevent every stillbirth. But a lot of them are preventable and mine certainly was. It makes you angry.
‘I’m a completely different person. I’ve gone down to three days at my work. I’m still on antidepressants. I’m seeing a counsellor. I ended up being treated for post-traumatic stress.’
Mrs Fyfe called for the current stillbirths review to be widened. She said: ‘I’ve got regrets about not taking it to court – maybe the bigger picture would have come out.’
An NHS letter to the couple said the post-mortem showed Olivia had suffered some brain damage because the placenta was not functioning properly.
The letter stated: ‘It is probable that Olivia would have survived had she been delivered earlier but it is also possible she would have had some long-term problems because of the damage which was seen.’
NHS Forth Valley said Olivia’s death had been reviewed, and that it had met her family ‘to share the findings and offer our apologies. A number of changes were also made to share learning and improve communication within the team’.
LOVING MEMORY: Helen Fyfe at Olivia’s graveside SAD FAREWELL: Gary and Helen Fyfe spend a precious moment with their stillborn daughter Olivia, whose life might have been saved