Chilling hospital mistake caught on camera

The cry of a newborn child is a sound parents never forget, but for Danial and Benish Khan the moments following their child’s birth still haunt them.

They rushed to Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital in Sydney’s west when Benish went into labour, excited to finally meet their daughter Amelia for the first time back in 2016.

Danial took it upon himself to savour the moment forever. He picked up a camera and started filming.

He didn’t know that he would capture the moment his daughter was poisoned in a mix up that left her with severe brain damage and another baby dead.

The haunting video, which they shared with 60 Minutes, shows how little Amelia was perfectly healthy in the moments after she was born.

Doctors decided on a Caesarian delivery which they completed without any problems, but to help with her first breaths, it was decided to give Amelia oxygen.

However, the baby didn’t respond well to the gas. She was suffocating.

The chilling footage recorded by Danial and aired on 60 Minutes shows confusion and panic in the theatre as doctors tried to work out what was wrong and Danial tried to reassure Benish.

“To this day, I remember that theatre, listening to her cries, the guessing, listening to them take that mask off for that couple of seconds, hearing her squealing, just not the sound that a baby makes,” Benish told 60 Minutes. “It’s just something that haunts you forever.”

Amelia survived the ordeal, but doctors informed the new parents that the situation was grave.

“They were just like: ‘More than 50 per cent of her brain is damaged and she will most likely not be able to move. She won’t be able to eat. She won’t even be able to come off life support without her passing away,’” Benish told 60 Minutes.

Benish and Danial took photos of their daughter, before making the toughest decision of their lives – to turn off Amelia’s life support.

“I’ve never buried anybody that’s close to me and my family. I’ve never experienced that. So for me, in my mind, I was like, ‘Wow, the first person I’m going to bury is my own daughter’,” Danial told 60 Minutes. “I’ve never imagined that.”

Against the odds, Amelia fought through and survived.

The cause her brain damage remained a medical mystery until a month later when the parents were called to an emergency meeting at the hospital.

They were told another newborn baby – John Ghanem – had died after being given nitrous oxide instead of oxygen in the same operating theatre.

It turned out there had been a mix up when new gas lines were installed in the hospital’s operating theatres.

Nitrous oxide — also known as laughing gas — had been attached to the oxygen outlet.

In the year that followed, thirty-four babies were delivered without requiring oxygen.

Tragically, Amelia needed it. The doctors who frantically tried to help her had no idea she had been given the fatal gas from a port labelled “oxygen” on the theatre wall.

The man at fault was Christopher Turner – a contractor who was paid to install the gas pipes back in 2015.

In May, he was convicted in Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court over the fatal mix-up.

The court found Turner failed in several of his duties when he failed to carry out cross connection and oxygen concentration tests.

He also signed several certificates which indicated he carried out safety checks, even though he had not and failed his requirement to perform the tests in the presence of a hospital staff member.

He was fined $100,000.

Meanwhile, Amelia is likely to have lifelong quadriplegic cerebral palsy and intellectual disabilities. She is unlikely to develop speech and would be reliant on others for all aspects of her care.

“The extent of the harm caused is almost too awful to contemplate,” Judge David Russell said in handing down his verdict.

“I cannot think of a more tragic case. John Ghanem lost his life and his parents will live with their grief forever.

“Amelia Khan has been condemned to a terrible existence. Her parents will have to provide care and assistance to Amelia and deal with their own grief.”

Turner pleaded guilty to failing in his duty under the Work Health and Safety Act and was facing a maximum fine of $150,000.

Judge Russell said both families had cause to consider the punishment lenient, but noted there was no scope under the Act to impose a prison sentence.

Turner’s penalty was discounted for his co-operation with authorities and expressing remorse in a written statement.

Judge Russell found Turner told the hospital’s assistant engineer Paul Brightwell that he didn’t have to be present for the testing, and convinced him to sign the testing certification.

Benish and Danial said they were “extremely disappointed to learn that errors made by other people” contributed to their daughter’s condition.

SafeWork NSW in 2018 launched cases against Mr Brightwell, but dropped the charges for legal reasons.

The family wants the regulator to re-open its investigation into Mr Brightwell and others.

“We strongly believe that everyone responsible needs to be held to account for their involvement and we are determined to make sure that justice is done,” they said in a statement.

Last week, BOC Limited, the company contracted to complete the work, was found not guilty of breaching its health and safety duty because Turner had lied to them.

SafeWork NSW last year dropped charges against the hospital because of its good health and safety record.

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