Parents of baby who died of catastrophic brain injury were ‘told everything was fine’

The parents of a baby girl who died of a catastrophic brain injury just four days after birth were reassured by hospital staff that everything was fine, an inquest heard.

Little Lyla Morton was born by emergency caesarean section in June 2019 and had to be resuscitated because she was not breathing.

Despite the neonatal team’s best efforts to save her, she died on June 17 at Leeds General Infirmary.

A post mortem examination found that Lyla had suffered a lack of oxygen due to a small placenta which led to a catastrophic brain injury and multiple organ failure.

Lyla’s parents Heidi Mayman, 31, and Dale Morton, 30, said: “We would give anything to turn back the clock and for things to be different, but we know that’s not possible.

“At least now we have some answers as to why Lyla was taken from us so soon. Nothing will ever make up for the pain and loss we feel.”

The couple instructed a law firm to investigate the care provided by the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

Heidi was 29 when she was pregnant with Lyla, who was her first child, and said there were no problems during her pregnancy.

On June 12, 2019 when Heidi was 39 weeks pregnant, the mum-to-be said she felt a ‘pop’ and passed liquid and blood.

She said she contacted hospital’s maternity assessment centre but was advised to stay at home until she was in labour.

Heidi’s pain continued to grow and following two phone calls with the maternity assessment centre she returned to hospital in the early hours of June 13, where she was again advised to go home.

However, Heidi said she wanted to remain in hospital and was admitted to the antenatal ward.

Shortly afterwards, Heidi reported that she couldn’t feel any fetal movements and a cardiotocograph (CTG) was carried out to record the baby’s heart rate.

She told her legal team she was reassured the readings were normal and everything was fine – but Lyla died just four days later.

An inquest at Wakefield Coroner’s court earlier this month recorded a narrative conclusion.

Heidi, a hairdresser from Batley, West Yorkshire, said after the hearing: “Almost two years on, it’s still so difficult for Dale and I to accept that Lyla is not with us.

“When I found out I was pregnant, we were so happy and excited at the prospect of becoming parents, and it’s incredibly upsetting to know that our baby girl didn’t get to experience any kind of life in her short time here.”

Following the inquest, Heidi said she is urging women to speak up if they feel something is wrong during their pregnancy.

She said: “We just want to raise awareness and encourage women to speak up and persevere if they think something’s wrong.

“We all know our own bodies, but I feel like I wasn’t listened to.

“All we can hope for now is that it won’t happen to anyone else.”

Victoria Moss, the Irwin Mitchell lawyer representing Heidi and Dale, said: “The past two years have been incredibly difficult for Heidi and Dale who are still struggling with their tragic loss.”

She added: “We sadly meet too many families left devastated by issues in maternity care.

“While there is nothing that can be done to change what happened to Lyla, we are pleased to at least have helped provide Heidi and Dale with answers they deserve regarding Lyla’s death.

“As the investigation continues into the death of their baby daughter, we will continue to support Heidi and Dale throughout the process.”

Dr Phil Wood, Chief Medical Officer for The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “This is a tragic case and we hold Lyla’s family in our thoughts at this difficult time.

“We have acknowledged and learnt from the family’s experiences and remain committed to providing the best care to our patients.

“The Coroner commended the Trust’s work to implement recommendations within the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) Report and highlighted the efforts of staff who provided care for Lyla.”