An inquest into the death of a baby boy heard that the doctor felt ‘confident’ he could keep the baby safe after a complication with the mother’s labour.
Matthew Jolly, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at St Richard’s hospital, said he reassured Bosham parents Jo Meeke and Matt Gurney about the condition of the foetus roughly two hours before Puck Meeke-Gurney was delivered by emergency c-section.
The inquest, which is being held in Crawley this week, previously heard how Ms Meeke, of Brooks Lane, had planned for a home birth but was taken to hospital on March 15 after she began to feel ‘severe pain’.
Mr Jolly said that when he saw Ms Meeke at around 4.30pm, monitoring showed there had been a small placental abruption – in which the placenta seperates from the uterus – at some point earlier.
However the results of a cardiotocography (CTG) – which monitors the foetal heartbeat – had since returned to normal.
He said he presented two options to Ms Meeke.
One of these was to have a caesarean section immediately, as she was so exhausted from the labour.
The other was to wait an hour and continue monitoring to see whether a caesarean section was necessary, as Mr Jolly believed there was ‘a good chance’ the labour would progress quickly and Ms Meeke would be able to give birth naturally.
“I felt that both options were safe,” he said. “I felt duty bound to offer both options. I was confident I could keep the situation safe.”
He said that Ms Meeke consented to wait an hour.
However James Robottom, representing the parents, said that if they had been offered the option of a c-section the parents ‘would have definitely taken it’.
But Mr Jolly said he was ‘absolutely clear’ a c-section was offered and said: “I’m sorry if they don’t remember it but that’s what happened.”
Mr Jolly said that he had ‘clearly described’ a small abruption and the ‘possibility of it becoming worse’ to the parents but said it was it did not occur to him as a ‘significant possibility’.
The inquest heard that he did not tell them that if there was a severe abruption they would not be able to act quickly enough to save the baby’s life – but said he believed it was ‘a remote possibility’.
The results of an autopsy found Puck died from a hypoxic brain injury caused by a placental abruption at 8.15am on March 16, after being moved to Southampton hospital for treatment, the inquest heard.
Mr Jolly said he was ‘absolutely devastated’ by the outcome and that he was ‘profoundly sorry’.
“There wasn’t a moment when I wasn’t trying to really do my best for Mr Gurney and Ms Meeke,” he said.
Patrick Forbes, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist who was called as the coroner’s expert, said that in a situation where a woman had had a placental abruption, a c-section ‘should be advised’ if the result of the CTG was not ‘extremely reassuring’.
In this case, he said the results had not been ‘unequivocally normal’.
Assistant coroner Bridget Dolan is expected to return her conclusion when the inquest continues at Crawley Coroner’s Court on Friday (January 19).