Inquest into mother, baby deaths 'important to safety'

By Martin Johnston

Photo / Getty Images
Photo / Getty Images

The deaths of a newborn baby and his mother in the Waikato will be investigated at a hearing which may be of "huge importance to future public safety".

The inquest into the deaths of 20-year-old Casey Nathan and her son Kymani is scheduled to run for seven days at Hamilton in September.

A health law specialist said other maternity-related inquests had taken longer, notably the nine days of hearings in 2011 into the death of Adam Barlow at Waikato Hospital.

Jenn Hooper, of the parent support and lobby group Action to Improve Maternity (AIM), who is supporting Kymani's two whanau, said more than seven days might be needed.

"We believe this case is extremely complex and is potentially of huge importance to future public safety."

Ms Nathan died at Waikato Hospital on May 21 last year, hours after giving birth to Kymani at the Birthcare maternity facility in Huntly.

Kymani died in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit two days later, after having suffered oxygen deprivation during his birth.

Ms Nathan's partner, Hayden Tukiri, was jailed for his role in two aggravated robberies but his sentence was reduced to 22 months, with leave to apply for home detention at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility, because of the traumatic effect on him of the deaths.

Ms Hooper, when asked about the issues expected to be raised at the inquest, said: "Casey and Kymani's events occurred mainly at a primary and rural birthing unit ... with a relatively newly graduated midwife and some others who were deemed experienced enough to recognise and deal with an emergency situation of this nature, which also involved an emergency transfer.

"The inquest will be looking at all of those things and more in order to determine what happened, how it happened, and if possible, how it is likely to be prevented in the future."

"AIM ... [has] worked tirelessly to ensure a thorough investigation of events takes place. Both Casey and Hayden's families are looking forward to the inquest in the hope that it brings answers ..."

The inquest, before coroner Garry Evans, is set down for the Hamilton District Court. College of Midwives midwifery adviser Norma Campbell said, "The college ... strongly support the scheduled coronial inquiry ... "

It would be wrong for the college to comment on the case ahead of Mr Evans publishing his findings, Ms Campbell said. All those involved, including family, were entitled to due process.

- NZ Herald

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