NEGLIGENCE BLAMED AS CHILD LOSES EYE

Ruth Martin gave birth to a bouncing baby boy on March 20, 2007 at the Sangre Grande Hospital. The baby, who weighed nine pounds, nine ounces, appeared healthy even though Martin noticed a white, cloudy film over his left eye.

Doctors at the hospital assured her that it was nothing to worry about and gave both her and the baby a clean bill of health.

In the days following, Martin, who resides at Jacob Hill Wallerfield, joined the clinic at the Arima Health Facility where her newborn baby underwent routine checks and further medical attention.

But as David grew, the mother of four became more concerned about his left eye.

His cornea had also developed a reddish colour.

A doctor at the Arima Clinic suggested that David might have a cataract in his left eye and sent Martin to the eye clinic at the Port of Spain General Hospital where she said the baby could have surgery to remove the cataract.

Based on the doctor’s advice, Martin went to the Port of Spain hospital with her son.

But when she got there, the doctors, who read the referral letter, sent her to the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex at Mt Hope instead.

The doctors at the paediatric department at Mt Hope decided to do a CT scan to find out what was wrong with David’s left eye.

Martin felt like the world crashed down on her shoulders when she learned of the results two weeks ago.

“They said he has retinal blastoma, which is a cancer of the eye. All along, I was thinking it was a cataract because that is what the doctor at the Arima clinic told me but all this time a tumour was developing in my son’s eye,” she said.

Martin said the question she wants answered is how medical practitioners at the Sangre Grande Hospital and at the Arima Clinic could have failed to detect her baby’s condition in the earlier stages of his life.

“All this time I going to clinic they never did a proper screening on him,” she said during a recent interview at Express House, Port of Spain.

David is now 18 months old.

David’s grandmother, Marcellene Martin, who accompanied her daughter and grandson, said what happened in David’s case was total “neglect and carelessness.

“From the time of my grandson’s birth up to the time of him attending clinic you want to tell me none of these so-called doctors could have picked up on his condition? This is ridiculous.” Marcellene said she believed that if David’s condition had been detected earlier on, she believed the tumour may not have gotten the chance to “grow and develop as it did”.

Last Tuesday, David underwent emergency surgery at the Mt Hope hospital to have his malignant left eye removed.

Both local and foreign eye specialists working on David’s case had advised Martin that there was nothing they could have done to save his eye.

They said they had no choice but to remove it since it was the only way to stop the cancer from spreading.

Martin said her son was doing “okay” but she confided that she was concerned about his future and now worries about how she will explain to him when he gets older “why Mummy had to let them take out his eye”.

A senior official at the Arima Health Facility said that the matter will be investigated.

He said he had already met with Martin to get a sense of the problem, and while he declined to give further details, he said they were taking steps to address the matter.

Extracted From: Trinidad Express Newspaper
Published on Feb 16, 2009

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