Headline — 24 March 2016 — by Johnelle McKenzie
Miscarried 19-week fetus missing from hospital; mother was planning a funeral

ORANGE WALK, Tues. Mar. 22, 2016–Shameka Flowers, a young expectant mother, is devastated after having had a miscarriage this week and learning, when she returned to the hospital with a white casket to bury her unborn child, that the fetus was nowhere to be found.

The Crooked Tree resident, who is seeking legal advice, said that friends and relatives in her village were waiting for her to return for a funeral. She was bereaved that she would have to return with an empty casket and no answers.

Flowers was nearly 5 months pregnant. She said that her baby was due this August, but she suffered a miscarriage on Friday, March 18, at the Northern Regional Hospital in Orange Walk Town.

Flowers told Amandala that on Friday at 10:30 a.m., she went to the hospital because she was experiencing complications.

One of the nurses told Flowers that she would be kept overnight while they ran some tests. Flowers said that she was given some medication and a little while after, she began to feel ill.
Thereafter, her “water bag” broke. Flowers said the nurse reassured her that this was not the case. However, it proved to be true when shortly afterwards, her baby was expelled from her body. She had just had a miscarriage after only 19 weeks of pregnancy, and there wasn’t anything the hospital could do to save her child.

Nevertheless, Flowers said that she was kept in until Sunday, since the hospital personnel wanted to administer a D&C (dilation and curettage procedure) on her.

“It is a surgical procedure in which the cervix is dilated so that the uterine lining can be scraped with a curette (spoon-shaped instrument) to remove any abnormal tissues,” says the John Hopkins website.

Flowers said that she left the hospital on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. with an intention to return for her baby and she even signed a paper for the baby to be held at the morgue. Thereafter, she went to make the funeral arrangements, but when she returned to the hospital, they were unable to hand over her baby, Flowers said.

Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services, told Amandala that Flowers was admitted with a urinary tract infection which caused the cervix to dilate, which led to the fetus eventually being expelled at 6 p.m.

Manzanero said that it is common for a pregnant woman to have a urinary tract infection, since the body goes through hormonal changes which can cause a miscarriage. Therefore, pregnant women are encouraged to drink a lot of water, not to hold in their urine and to attend their clinic for regular check-ups.

Manzanero said that a fetus is considered viable after 24 weeks of gestation. At this stage the hospital can make an attempt to save it outside the womb with advanced medical equipment. Manzanero added that traditionally, it is in cases of miscarriage which occur in an advanced stage of gestation of 35 to 36 weeks, that a mother would consider having the unborn child to bury for closure.

At 19 weeks, the fetus would be considered “a waste product” that the hospital would bury or burn depending on the procedure of the hospital, Manzanero said.

Manzanero added that, despite the fact that it is rare that a mother, who has a miscarriage at 19 weeks, would make a request for the fetus, the fact that such a request isn’t often made does not mean that the hospital would not hand over the fetus if the mother requested it. He said that he is investigating the matter to see where the miscommunication occurred.

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