Elijah Stirling 'may have lived if Caesarean performed sooner'

Crosshouse Hospital Elijah Kennedy was born with disabilities following failures at Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock

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A baby who died after being starved of oxygen at birth could have been saved if doctors had carried out a Caesarean sooner, a sheriff has ruled.

Elijah Stirling died in May 2011 - six months after his delayed birth at Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock.

His mother Jennifer Kennedy told a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) she had been told "his birth was his death".

NHS Ayrshire and Arran has already accepted the failings that led to Elijah's death and apologised.

During the FAI at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court, Ms Kennedy, 46, told how she begged to have a Caesarean section after her baby showed signs of distress but was "basically shoved to the side".

'Communication shortcomings'

The operation was not carried out until her uterus had ruptured, eight hours after she said a doctor assured her she would get a C-section.

In a written determination, Sheriff Shirley Foran ruled the "death might have been avoided if Elijah Stirling had been delivered by Caesarean section by 7.45pm."

The report added that consultant Henry Dobbie's plan for the birth "wasn't clear", with "shortcomings in his communication". But there was no evidence this contributed to the tragedy.

Dr Dobbie, 64, told the inquiry that at 20 weeks the placenta was "low lying" in Ms Kennedy's uterus, which could be a severe bleeding risk, but a later scan was satisfactory.

He said: "If the placenta was still low I would have brought her in but she seemed to be OK and I was happy for her to plan for a normal delivery."

Ms Kennedy was later transferred from the ultrasound department to see him.

Dr Dobbie said he "didn't feel things were right" and a previous Caesarean section could make induced birth more difficult.

Health board apology

"You can't push as hard as you can with someone who's having their first baby," he added.

"I wanted to try for a little more time in the hope that Jennifer would go into labour on her own."

Speaking at her home in Kilmarnock, Ms Kennedy said she hoped no other family would have to experience what she and her partner Allan Stirling went through.

She added: "Hopefully all their procedures have been changed and the inquiry will stop this happening again.

"The witnesses came across very well but it took far too long for us to get to this stage."

John Burns, chief executive of NHS Ayrshire and Arran, said: "What happened to baby Elijah and his family is unbelievably tragic and they have our heart-felt condolences and apologies.

"We deeply regret the pain they have experienced in Elijah's short life and since."

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