Amariah Sharai Hylton was born at 4.30pm on 7 April, 2006. She died at 12.10pm the next day in the George Town Hospital’s intensive care unit.
After government pathologist Dr. John Heidingsfelder explained the results of post mortem examinations, a Coroner’s Jury ruled that Amariah died of natural causes.
The physical cause of death was listed as clinical persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn.
The inquest took place on 28 February, 2008.
Queen’s Coroner Margaret Ramsay-Hale told jurors if they felt they did not have enough evidence to make a decision as to cause of death, they were free to return an open verdict. It was for them to decide.
She read a statement from Amariah’s mother, who said she was told she had a healthy baby. About 20 minutes after the birth, the baby was taken from her to be cleaned up.
Later, when she went to look for her baby, she saw that the nurses had a pump in her mouth and they were pressing on her chest. She was hooked up to a machine. One of the nurses told her the baby was having breathing problems. She was also told the baby seemed to be responding at times and they were awaiting an air ambulance from the US.
The ambulance did not come until 12pm. It was around 12 she was told that her baby had died. Mrs. Kidd-Hylton asked for assistance because she was not sure why it had happened.
Dr. John told the court that the baby was born near her expected delivery date and weighed seven pounds. One and a half hours later, she was noted to have a dusky complexion and difficulty breathing.
One feature noted by the paediatrician was that the infant relatively improved more so on manual respiration than when put on a ventilator. Dr. John said his understanding was that manual respirations are more shallow and at a higher rate, while ventilator respirations are deeper and at a slower rate.
His post mortem examination revealed decreased air within the baby’s lungs and increased blood. He searched for any abnormality of a vital organ that may have caused the death, but he did not find any.
He therefore requested assistance from specialists – pathologists who deal with children’s heart and lung problems. The heart specialist found no abnormality, but the lung specialist found a widespread muscular thickening of the walls of small blood vessels within the lung.
This was a distinctly abnormal finding that was unusual, but which correlated to a clinical entity called persistent pulmonary hypertension in the newborn. It was congenital, but only discovered by the specialist.
Dr. John said his diagnosis was based on the autopsy findings, his own research and discussions with the treating paediatrician.
The coroner asked if death could have been due to any treatment the baby received. Dr. John said the abnormality began when the baby was still in the womb. The condition presented itself shortly after birth.
He had found nothing in his autopsy that would indicate another cause of death based on intervention and treatment received.
Jurors had a chance to go through Dr. John’s final autopsy report, in which he stated that the exact cause of the pulmonary blood vessel abnormality was unknown, but it appeared to be a natural disease process.