Babies Switched At The Morgue

Two Taveuni women whose babies were switched at the Labasa morgue after delivering them prematurely are looking for answers.
28 Jan 2020 09:42
Babies Switched At The Morgue
Sofia Kayaga showing the documents she will take to a lawyer in Labasa. Photo: Shratika Naidu

Two Taveuni women whose babies were switched at the Labasa morgue after delivering them prematurely are looking for answers.

Katarina Vulase, whose baby girl died in her womb at eight months had to deliver through a caesarean procedure last Wednesday at the Labasa Hospital.

On the same day, Valeria Rakai gave birth to a baby girl through normal delivery after a pregnancy of six months.

The baby passed away within an hour.

Mrs Vulase’s sister-in-law, Sofia Kayaga, said Katarina didn’t see her baby after her operation. When the family went to the Labasa morgue last Saturday to prepare the baby for her burial, they discovered that it was a different baby.

“We enquired with the staff and were told that our baby was gone. They said a family from Taveuni had buried our baby on January 24 (last Friday) in Labasa. Katarina has been crying since then,” Mrs Kayaga said.

She said as a result of the switch; the family had to bury an empty coffin box in Labasa. The distraught family reported the matter at the Labasa Police Station the same day because they wanted answers. They have also sought advice from a lawyer.

On the other hand, a distraught Mrs Rakai, 25, who buried the wrong child, also wants to know who was at fault for the switch.

“After my delivery on Wednesday, I was still admitted at the hospital and got discharged on Sunday,” Mrs Rakai said.

“On Friday my uncle went to the morgue. He found the baby wrapped and placed on a table inside the morgue. We carried out the burial as no one would have thought that it could be someone else’s baby because we trusted the staff would do their job.

After discovering that she had buried the wrong baby, Mrs Rakai said she grieved even more.

The women found friendship at the Labasa Hospital after being referred from Taveuni Hospital.

“I didn’t know all this will happen. Despite all this, my husband and I are prepared to bear another funeral cost. We have planned to bury our baby beside Katarina’s baby.”

Police spokesperson Ana Naisoro confirmed receiving a report.

“We are closely liaising with both families and health authorities to ensure both families are able to accord their loved ones final rituals as it has been a difficult time for them,” Ms Naisoro said.

Minister for Health and Medical Services Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete said communication was very important.

Dr Waqainabete said morgue processes were strict, and if what the families claim is true, then they need to provide an explanation to both the families.

When contacted, a senior official from the Suva Morgue Services Limited said they were not aware of the report.

Edited by Caroline Ratucadra


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