Mother hopes for ‘honest investigation’ into death of two-year-old



A brokenhearted mother who lost her two-year-old son on Tuesday is hoping that those investigating her son’s death will do so with honesty and integrity.

On Thursday, the Cabinet disclosed that an autopsy and investigation will be conducted into the death of Mark Jno Baptiste, who died in the Sir Lester Bird Mount St John’s Medical Centre (SLBMSJMC) from unknown causes.

Cabinet spokesperson Melford Nicholas, while expressing condolences to the mourning families, said “in the case of the toddler, there is plans to have an autopsy and a full investigation done surrounding the circumstances of that particular toddler”.

Mark’s mother, 30-year-old Deidra Roberts, told Observer, “I want them to investigate it. I’m glad that they say they are going to investigate it, but I want it to be truthful. I want transparency. I don’t want no covering up.”

Roberts recounted that last Thursday her son “was his normal self”.

“He had dinner and then he went to bed Thursday night [but] he woke up Friday morning at 12.40 and starting crying for pains in his hands and his belly and his back,” she explained.

With permission from a close police officer, she said she was able to take her son for a drive during which he “dose off and when we got home the crying continued”.

The Barnes Hill woman said she tried to figure out what could be wrong.

“My son has a tendency to overeat, so I thought he had a little colic or something and he sleeps curled up so I was saying maybe he slept on his hands,” she remarked.

In the end, the confused mother took her son to the hospital where she said they waited two hours to see a doctor, and all that time her child was “screaming and bawling” in the waiting room.

Then, the doctor “did an external exam and then told me that he is going to give him paracetamol,” she continued to recall.

Roberts said she asked the doctor to check his hernia which he did and concluded that that wasn’t the problem.

She then asked the doctor to test his blood and urine but, according to her, he said he “don’t see the need for that; it’s probably just a viral infection”, and then sent them home and asked them to return if it got worse.

But according to the frustrated woman, the paracetamol did not work and so they visited a pediatrician who sent them to Bel Lab to run some tests.

“When she got it back, she wasn’t comfortable with it, so she wanted me to retest some of the stuff. However, she gave me stronger pain medicine for my son and said she’s gonna take his file home and said she was gonna call us on Saturday and check on us.

“She called and she said ‘it’s not right, bring him back now’. She examined him and still was not comfortable,” the grieving mother continued.

Roberts said that the pediatrician then “wrote me a letter with her findings and she wrote ‘urgent’ on it and she told me I could either take the prescription and wait until Monday and do the test privately, or I can go to the hospital now,” which she did.

But despite having an emergency, she said they had to wait over an hour to see a doctor.

“I got so agitated and I’m so uneasy that I call the hospital and ask them to transfer me to Casualty and the person that answered the phone told me there’s a procedure that they have to go through.

“When I spoke to the guy that does the registration, he said, oh they handing over, just sit down and wait until the doctor calls us,” she said.

The distraught mother lamented that “all this for me is time wasted”.

In the end, she said there was one doctor who was quite helpful. “He sent us to do an ultrasound and he said he’s gonna have to send us to a surgeon,” she explained.

She said they conducted X-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans and even a Covid-19 test but “up to now they don’t know what happen to him”.

The toddler died the day before his third birthday, leaving Roberts “broken”.

“My son was a happy child. He was a bubbly child. He was full of life. He was the best son anybody could ask for,” she reflected.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet also revealed that a seven-month-old baby who tested positive for Covid-19 also died this week.

“In the case of the infant, the minister has reported that the circumstances surrounding the cause of death of the infant is certainly under investigation but it had been deduced that the infant himself had contracted Covid; an infant of seven months old,” Nicholas shared in yesterday’s post-Cabinet press briefing.

Yesterday, in a release, the Medical Director at SLBMSJMC, Dr Albert Duncan, said, “Our sincere condolences go to the family, and we ask the media to respect their privacy at this difficult time.

“Any premature death is tragic news, but the death of any child is particularly sad — and the first death of a child in Antigua and Barbuda following a positive test for Covid-19 is particularly significant.

“The lesson we’re hoping the community learns from this is that, while the old are much more likely to die from coronavirus infection, the young are certainly not immune from it.

“Children can catch the virus, and while they are more likely to have mild symptoms, they can still pass it on to others who are more vulnerable. In rare cases, they can also get seriously ill, or die, as this distressing case shows,” Dr Duncan added.

The hospital also extended “deepest sympathies and condolences to the family of the two-year-old (male) patient who recently died at our hospital. We understand the family’s desire for answers; however, we want to give them (and the community) the assurance that the circumstances which led to the death of the child will be investigated and corrective actions, if needed, implemented”.

Due to privacy concerns, it added, the SLBMSJMC is unable to provide any further details at this time.

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