IVF ‘Miracle Baby’ Died Following ‘Gross Failure’ at Sheffield Hospital

A coroner ruled that failings at Sheffield Teaching Hospital’s Jessop Wing maternity unit contributed to the death of 2-day-old baby Cassian Curry.

Cassian, who was described as a “true miracle” by his parents, was born prematurely at 28 weeks on 3 April 2021, weighing just 750 grams (1lb 10oz). An inquest into his death concluded that there was “gross failure” and “neglect” by staff during his care.

Karolina and James Curry have said they “lost a massive chunk” of their lives and “stepped into hell” following the “horror” of losing their baby. They hope that Cassian’s legacy will help save future lives with the implementation of changes in national guidelines.

The “Miracle” of Cassian Curry

James Curry was diagnosed with cancer, aged 22. The chemotherapy treatment left him infertile, and the couple had to undergo six cycles of IVF treatment before they had Cassian. Mrs Curry said: “We put our lives on hold; we just decided to go for it.”

“Nothing can prepare you mentally for what you go through during that journey. All the failed attempts and the miscarriages, all the hurt and the pain that brings with it. That’s why Cassian was so special for us.” Mr Curry said.

“It was the highest moment of our life, the moment he was born, and to suddenly lose him within two days, we just felt we stepped into hell,” Mrs Curry added.

“Gross Failure” and “Neglect” at Sheffield’s Jessop Wing Hospital

The inquest on Cassian’s medical care heard that his health deteriorated, and he died from a cardiac tamponade on 5 April 2021. A cardiac tamponade is a situation in which the heart is prevented from pumping well following a build-up of excess fluid around it.

While in intensive care, Cassian had a feeding tube and umbilical venous catheter (UVC) in his abdomen. The hearing heard that two junior doctors inserted the UVC in a “sub-optimal” position near his heart.

The mispositioning error was identified by neonatal consultant Dr Elizabeth Pilling, who told the inquest that she intended to reposition the feeding line within a day but forgot – with no clear explanation for the oversight.

in her conclusion, coroner Abigail Combes said the decision to pause the procedure and reassess it in 24 hours was “reasonable and appropriate”, but was “not adequately recorded and communicated” in Cassian’s notes, or on the ward round.

Ms Combes said that this amounted to a “gross failure” in Cassian’s care, and one which contributed to his death.

She added: “But for this incident, Cassian would not have died of what he died of, when he died.”

An Apology from the Hospital

Medical Director at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, Dr Jennifer Hill said:

 “We are so very sorry for what happened, and we have already provided Mr and Mrs Curry with a full explanation of what happened and the changes we have made since his death.

“This was a very rare incident, and everyone involved in Cassian’s care is devastated. There has been a full review of what happened, and changes have already been made to limit the chances of this happening again.”

Mrs Curry said:

“Killing any child, especially when it’s your child, and then you find they had so many chances to save his life over those two days, we will never be able to forgive and forget.”

The baby’s parents said they will “try to start living again,” and they hope that neo-natal units,” might also be able to change their practices and learn from Cassian’s death” and that Cassian’s “legacy will become one of saviour and he will continue to save babies’ lives through the loss of his own”.

The Need for Changes in National Guidelines

In a statement Karolina Curry said she and her husband, James, had concerns following reports the unit was short-staffed and that medics failed to act on her concerns, including about her son’s raised heart rate.

“We still can’t get our heads around any of this and how a bank holiday means your child dies,” she said.

“We cannot understand why they can’t have life-saving checks or the right number of staff because of a bank holiday.”

Mr Curry said there should be changes in the national guidelines to make sure the neonatal units are ‘not running on the bare minimum’.

He continued: “One consultant working over the holiday is not enough. They are put under so much pressure and things are bound to go wrong. There should be a minimum of two to three consultants on a bank holiday and more if it’s not.”

However the coroner found there were no systemic failures in terms of staff numbers which caused or contributed to Cassian’s death as staffing levels were above the national requirement that weekend.

Were Mistakes Made in the Care of Your Newborn?

If you feel that the care you or your child received prior to, during or after birth was negligent, you may decide to bring a claim in order to secure justice and compensation for yours and your child’s injuries. Speak to one of our medical negligence solicitors who specialise in birth injuries.

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