First-time mom Jodian Fearon “died a terrible death” from heart failure exacerbated by last-minute pregnancy-related stress at The University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI), the medical doctor hired to observe her post-mortem has revealed.
Further, the attorney for Fearon’s family has challenged assertions by Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton that a preliminary assessment has indicated that The UHWI, Victoria Jubilee, and Spanish Town hospitals all followed the protocols for the transfer of patients from a private to a public health facility.
Jephthah Ford, the medical doctor hired by Fearon’s family, told The Gleaner last night that he was present as a team of three doctors conducted the post-mortem on the body of the 21-year-old woman at The UHWI. Prior to the procedure, Ford said he was allowed to view Fearon’s medical records.
He said the records and the post-mortem revealed that Fearon had a pre-existing heart condition – a hole in her heart.
According to Ford, the heart condition was noted in her medical records that were sent to all the hospitals to which she was transferred.
“She died because the heart defect was there, and she went into progressive heart failure, secondary to the stress of her pregnancy,” he said.
Several calls to the cell phone of Nordia Francis Williams, public relations officer at The UHWI, for a comment on the post-mortem went unanswered yesterday.
Ford said that Fearon’s medical records indicated that both she and the unborn child were in distress by the time she was transported to Spanish Town Hospital in St Catherine. “They had to get the baby out of her,” he said.
He said that the loss of more than a litre of blood, and the distress of the delivery, triggered her heart condition.
“It sent her into shock. Because her heart wasn’t getting enough blood, her pulse rate was almost two times normal,” Ford said.
According to his account, she was transferred to The UHWI “in that condition”.
Tufton, speaking in Parliament yesterday, said a preliminary assessment of the reports submitted by The UHWI, Spanish Town, and Victoria Jubilee hospitals indicated that they all adhered to the protocols for the transfer of a patient from a private to a public institution.
But Isat Buchanan, the attorney retained by Fearon’s family, disputed this assertion during an interview with The Gleaner.
The attorney said that a perusal of Fearon’s medical records show that “the minister was ill-advised and misinformed, and, according to Ford, should seek further guidance in clearing, certainly, Spanish Town about the protocol”.
But Tufton, speaking during a press conference yesterday evening, bristled at the suggestion.
“I don’t take orders from … ,” he started, in response to a question before giving a more “diplomatic” answer.
“I have confidence in the team that I have asked to generate the report. I would preferred to be guided by them than anyone else,” he said, making it clear that he respected the family’s right to seek legal advice.