Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Dead girl's family accepts apology from WRHA

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The parents of 10-year-old Ashuza Halisi have accepted an apology from the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority for the death of their daughter, and have asked for privacy while they move on with their lives.

Ephemie Nyelele and Willy Halisi had demanded the apology and a clear explanation why their daughter died.

Ashuza died after receiving day surgery March 11 at the Maples Surgical Centre, where their family doctor and Health Sciences Centre referred them.

Nyelele and Halisi said in a written statement they met Thursday with the WRHA, the Maples Surgical Centre and the surgeon who operated on their daughter. They received a formal written and verbal apology.

WRHA president and chief executive officer Arlene Wilgosh told Halisi and Nyelele in a letter made public Thursday that while it is still not known how the perforation occurred that resulted in the girl's death, the chief medical officer's investigation found that "an accidental surgical complication is the only logical cause."

Wilgosh said the WRHA acknowledges the findings that a surgical accident occurred.

Had any member of the surgical team known Ashuza's bowel had been damaged, she would not have been discharged, Wilgosh said.

She expressed heartfelt condolences and said the WRHA is truly sorry.

"We hope you will find some solace from the fact that we are striving to learn from your experiences and will continue to share your story with our staff as an example of the importance of reaching out to families with timely, appropriate and sensitive communications following such a tragedy," Wilgosh said.

Manitoba's chief medical examiner has called for an expert review, rather than an inquest, and ruled her death accidental.

The instructions Nyelele received following surgery said Ashuza could go home and treat any pain with Tylenol. After a day-and-a-half at home with Ashuza in terrible pain, Nyelele found Ashuza panting with cold legs and feet.

Though Nyelele called 911, tried cardiopulmonary resuscitation and watched the paramedics try CPR, it was too late for young Ashuza. She died in the early hours of March 13.

Halisi and his wife were first told Ashuza's death was caused by an infection she had before surgery. But when they met with chief medical examiner Dr. Thambirajah Balachandra late last month, they learned Ashuza's death was the result of an accident during surgery.

Wilgosh said the WRHA has started an internal review and is seeking a review of the death from an outside expert.

The WRHA has instructed its staff to follow up with patients' families within 24 hours of surgery.

Wilgosh acknowledged the parents' sense of loss was compounded by "the interactions you had with the 'system' as you struggled to deal with your grief."

"We know that in offering this apology, there is nothing that we can say today that can take away the pain that you have already suffered," Wilgosh said.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 19, 2013 A7

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