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Kelowna baby with suspicious brain injury removed from parents

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March 08, 2016 - 12:59 PM

'IF HE MISBEHAVES, JUST SLAP HIM UP THE BACK OF HIS HEAD'

KELOWNA - A Kelowna couple are contesting the removal of their six-month-old child who was taken from them after nurses overheard troubling comments made while the child was admitted to the hospital for a suspicious head injury.

Judge R. Smith summarizes the case in a court decision released March 4. The child, whose identity is protected, had a difficult life right from the start.

He was born with his intestines outside his body and spent the majority of his young life in the hospital. He was released in early December and appeared to be thriving, however was brought to Kelowna General Hospital for a regular checkup in early January.

He was seen by a doctor who, according to the decision, noticed right away that the child was not healthy.

“In particular, the circumference of the head was measured and it was sizably larger than it ought to have been and this was something that they had been tracking weekly,” Smith says. “The suspicion was some type of subdural hematoma.”

The 19-year-old mother said she slipped in the snow while carrying the child in a car seat but the car seat only fell a couple of inches.

A CT scan and ultrasound confirmed the buildup of fluid in the brain suspected to have been caused by post-traumatic injury.  There were no broken bones and bloodwork was relatively normal.

“What caught the attention of (the doctor) in particular, were two comments made by the mother to two different nurses at this time,” Smith writes in his decision. “The first comment was, 'there is no need to check his saturations. He is dead.'  That comment was made to the one nurse and then, to a different nurse, the mother told the nurse, 'If he misbehaves, just slap him up the back of his head.'  Not good comments for a 19-year-old mom to be making to the people treating a child where there is some suspicion of shaken-baby.”

The doctor said his impression was the injury was non-accidental and a complaint was made to the Ministry of Child Protection.

Two subsequent medical reports say basically the same thing — it was highly suspicious and accidental trauma is the most likely scenario. 

The child has since been released from hospital and is now in a foster home, however the parents are asking for a return order which would include constant supervision by extended family members until the case goes to court.

Both the paternal and maternal grandparents volunteered to move to Kelowna to live with the child and his parents, however Smith says he can’t take that risk.

"This is a very troubling case,” Smith writes. “I do not believe it is possible to have 24/7 supervision even though other people are in the home.  People do go to sleep, and when, as stated in the last medical report, there is a concern that it could be something akin to shaken-baby, and when this mother was willing to tell the nurse, 'If he misbehaves just slap him up the back of his head,' I am not prepared to have a return under supervision no matter who the supervisor is, even if it was a ministry supervisor.”

He ruled the child remain in the care of the ministry, with supervised visits, and the case be heard within three months.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at aproskiw@infonews.ca or call 250-718-0428. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
InfoTel News Ltd

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