Newborn Baby Dies, Another Suffers Brain Damage After Being Administered ‘Laughing Gas’ Instead Of Oxygen At Sydney Hospital

A newborn baby died, and another infant is currently in critical condition suffering from brain damage, after they were administered nitrous oxide instead of oxygen at a hospital in Sidney.

A baby died, while another one is fighting for life at Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital. The death occurred after the babies inhaled nitrous oxide, commonly referred to as “laughing gas.” Only after the death was discovered and investigated did the hospital realize the cause and rush to rectify it. The devastated mother of the deceased baby hasn’t decided the next course of action, while the hospital is scrambling to remedy the situation and ensure such incidents aren’t repeated.

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Sonya Ghanem, the mother of the newborn that died, was inconsolable. The devastated mother is still trying to come to terms with the loss:

“I held my baby. They brang him to me at the hospital. I said ‘I want to see him. (I was) just looking at him… shaking. My son ‘wake up’ I would tell him. ‘Wake up, wake up. What did they do to you?”

“I come (sic) home to his room. No baby. No baby. Me walking, coming out of the hospital holding a capsule. I held nothing in my hand. I came empty-handed. Thinking I’d hold my newborn but no. Shocking, shocking this hospital.”

Two babies had to pay a heavy price due to a faulty gas line at Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital in Sydney’s south-west. Instead of oxygen, the line had been dispensing nitrous oxide, which is routinely used in dental surgeries. According to Sky News, both children were treated with a dispenser of nitrous oxide that had been wrongly installed as oxygen in the hospital’s neonatal resuscitation unit. Confirming the sad incident, New South Wales Health Minister Jillian Skinner read a statement at a press conference:

“I am profoundly sorry for the families of a newborn who died and another newborn who was severely affected. I deeply regret these families have suffered through such a devastating error. NSW Health will do all it can to support them.”

Ms. Skinner said the gas lines were checked and certified by the gas company, BOC Ltd and the hospital, reported BBC. The legal counsel representing New South Wales has asked for an explanation from BOC Ltd. So far, the company has only issued a statement regretting the incident and acknowledging the pain and suffering of the families.

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After the incident, the hospital and the agency have begun the process of checking all medical gas lines. So far, eight operating theaters at the hospital have been checked and certified to be functioning correctly. However, the ones that caused the incidents remain closed. Meanwhile, the administration stressed that since July 2015 no infant has been administered any wrong gas.

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Shockingly, the two babies weren’t affected simultaneously or within a interval of few days. According to The Daily Telegraph, one of the babies suffered severe brain damage last month. What’s even more appalling is the fact that the doctors and the hospital didn’t reveal the cause. For weeks after the birth of the baby girl, the administration did not inform the family about the “devastating mix-up” that led to her critical condition. It was only after a pediatrician raised concerns following the death of one of the babies last Thursday, was the error discovered and investigated, added Ms. Skinner said at a press conference.

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Only on Saturday were the families informed about the true reason one of them is raising a brain-damaged baby girl while the other one left the hospital without a baby.

Nitrous oxide or laughing gas isn’t lethal in smaller doses. It is regularly used by dentists to induce drowsiness. Besides being used as medical/dental anesthesia, the gas also serves as a propellant in food industries. In smaller doses, the gas does wonders for dentists, but if the dose rises outside the permissible range, it can be dangerous, if not fatal for adults. In fact, as The Inquisitr reported earlier, laughing gas is being tested in treatment of patients suffering from PTSD.

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Unfortunately in the case of infants, even small doses of nitrous oxide can be life-threatening. While the company managing the gas lines is conducting an internal investigation, NSW’s health department too, has launched a full-scale investigation.

[Photo by Paul Fievez/Hulton Archive/Getty Images]