Derbyshire mum says critical issues with her baby girl ‘should have been picked up sooner’

A Derbyshire mum says critical issues with her “happy, smiling” baby girl should have been picked up sooner by staff at Chesterfield Royal Hospital.

Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 7:35 am
Reenie-May and her mother, Kim Mullins, at their Tibshelf home

Kim Mullins, who lives in Tibshelf, gave birth to her daughter Reenie-May on July 1, 2020 at Chesterfield Royal Hospital.

She said it took a further seven months for major concerns about Reenie’s welfare, including the need for multiple urgent surgeries, to be identified.

Miss Mullins said this was only achieved after she rushed Reenie to Sheffield Children’s Hospital in mid-February, 2021, a day after being discharged from Chesterfield Royal after a one-night stay.

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She says Reenie’s conditions should have been caught sooner and she wonders what would have happened if Reenie had not become more ill in February.

Staff at Sheffield Children’s Hospital diagnosed Reenie with an anorectal malformation which had left her unable to poo.

This caused multiple issues, including strain on her vital organs, for a baby who had been flagged for paediatric alert before her birth.

Miss Mullins wants to raise more awareness about anorectal malformations and has allowed Sheffield Children’s Hospital to video and photograph stages of Reenie’s condition and treatment as part of a national campaign.

Miss Mullins said that she understands the risks posed by Covid meaning Reenie could not be seen regularly but says her conditions still should have been identified.

Miss Mullins said: “It should have been picked up on her newborn checks in the first place and she should have had her stoma straight away rather than as late as she did.

“I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if she hadn’t become that poorly in February and I hadn’t kept telling anyone who would listen to my concerns

“She’s doing OK now, but unfortunately she’s behind developmentally. She is 15 months and not walking yet and she’s only 17lb in weight, so is under the dietician – but she never stops smiling despite everything she’s been through.

“She just loves life, she wakes up smiling and goes to be smiling.

“She’s just so chilled. I wish this was found sooner so she could be at nursery now but, unfortunately, it’s had a knock-on effect as she does struggle with me even leaving the room – but I’m hoping we can get over that in time.”

Miss Mullins added that the pain of Reenie’s conditions had been causing the newborn to scream for hours on end for more than six months.

She had been kept in hospital for two weeks after her birth due to jaundice, but no other ailments were discovered.

A local GP, unable to see or treat Reenie in person due to the risks presented by Covid to an already seriously ill baby, prescribed milk, Gaviscon and colic drops, but to no effect.

In January and February this included the prescription of laxatives because Reenie was struggling to poo, with Miss Mullins’ concerns growing.

In mid-February, Reenie and Miss Mullins were admitted to Chesterfield Royal after the young baby was presenting with a high temperature and an inability to poo.

Blood tests were not carried out.

A doctor told Miss Mullins that Reenie’s anus had effectively closed over – a condition known as an anterior anus.

The following day, Miss Mullins and Reenie were discharged with a referral to the Sheffield Children’s Hospital for an appointment in a few weeks’ time.

Miss Mullins says she was not happy to be discharged due to Reenie’s continued high temperature.

The following day, Miss Mullins rushed Reenie to Sheffield Children’s Hospital and blood tests were promptly carried out.

In the middle of the following night, Reenie was taken from her mother for an urgent lumbar puncture after her blood test results found she was neutropenic (low white blood cell levels, typically caused by infection)

She was diagnosed with anorectal malformation with a fistula.

An anorectal malformation occurs when the anus (which is the opening in your bottom through which stool passes through) and the rectum (which is the part of bowel immediately above the anus) have not developed properly.

It occurs in around one in every 5,000 babies.

A fistula is an abnormal opening that connects two or more organs or spaces inside or outside the body.

Sheffield staff had to create a stoma – opening from the bowels to the outside of the body – to enable Reenie to relieve her bowels. Further scans found a hole in Reenie’s heart and a tethered spinal cord – both of which required surgery.

Reenie has now had corrective surgery to her anus and her stoma – which had allowed her relieve her bowels through an attached colostomy bag – has now been reversed.

A spokesperson for the Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “It is always disappointing to hear about occasions when patients or their relatives feel that the exceptional standard of care we strive to provide is not met.

“Our maternity and paediatric teams work very closely together, holding weekly multi-disciplinary team meetings where staff caring for pregnant women, their babies and their families discuss what current and follow up care is needed for each patient.

“There is also a labour ward forum where changes in care pathways and policy within maternity and paediatrics are discussed together in detail, whilst paediatric consultants attend the birth centre handovers so that they are fully aware of cases that require special attention.

“We are very sorry that Kim feels the level of care given to Reenie-May has not met the standards that she expects.

“We value working with families to understand more about their experiences and our clinical teams would very much welcome the opportunity to speak with Kim and her family about her daughter’s care.

“We would urge them to call our PALS team on 01246 512640 to arrange for that conversation to take place as soon as possible.”