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MoHW investigates death of baby choked by pill

HeadlineMoHW investigates death of baby choked by pill

by Kristen Ku

CAMALOTE VILLAGE, Cayo District, Mon. Jan. 29, 2024

The life of 1-year-old toddler, Shawn Armstrong, Jr., of Camalote Village, was tragically cut short after a deworming pill, prescribed by the Western Regional Hospital, reportedly became lodged in the baby’s airway.

The incident occurred on the morning of Friday, January 26, when Sarina Welcome, the 18-year-old mother of little Shawn, administered half of the prescribed pill to her son at around 9:30 a.m. It was not long after that the toddler began experiencing severe breathing difficulties.

The parents desperately rushed the unresponsive infant to the Western Regional Hospital, where it was reportedly discovered that the pill was visibly lodged in the baby’s airway; but despite the medical team’s efforts, including attempts at cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), the young child was pronounced dead shortly after 10:00 a.m. that Friday.

After news of the incident began circulating on social media, comments expressing condolences to the family turned into criticism of the hospital for purportedly prescribing a pill to an infant.

Others criticized the parents for not dissolving the pill before administering it to the child.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness has thus launched an internal investigation into the matter in an effort to trace the sequence of events leading up to the tragedy, and to pinpoint any possible lapses in healthcare protocols or acts of negligence that may have contributed to the baby’s death.

Hon. Kevin Bernard, the Minister of Health and Wellness, while expressing his deep condolences, stated that he is awaiting a full briefing on the investigation before making any detailed statements. “I will not want to get into the details of that, because the matter is under investigation,” he told reporters.

When questioned about the normalcy of prescribing pills to such young infants, the Minister responded, “I will only say this as a parent: I would have never been able to do that. But at the end of the day, let me not get into that father issue.”

Dr. Melissa Musa-Diaz, the Director of Public Health and Wellness, confirmed the ongoing investigation, and also indicated that the Ministry is not in a position to comment further at this stage.

In an emotional interview, the toddler’s father, Shawn Armstrong, Sr., explained to reporters that the idea of deworming little Shawn surfaced during a conversation he had with Welcome about measures they could take to ensure the health of their child.

Welcome then took the child to the Western Regional Hospital, where the nurses administered two vaccine shots on his arm before prescribing the deworming pill.

“All they told her was to give the baby the pills. They didn’t explain how to give him; he [the nurses] just said give the baby half of the brown pill,” Armstrong explained.

Also, Armstrong revealed that, contrary to what is being suggested on various media platforms, they actually gave the baby less than half the pill and made sure to soften the pill with water.

“We didn’t give my baby the pills hard. She [Welcome] softened it before we gave him,” he said, refuting the report made by police that there was ever a pill stuck in the baby’s throat. “That part is not true,” he said.

It is expected that a post mortem examination will be conducted as part of the investigation.

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