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Grieving Coquitlam family wants answers

By Jane Deacon

Didier Rivas wants answers after daughter's death. (JANE DEACON/24 HOURS)

Didier Rivas wants answers after daughter's death. (JANE DEACON/24 HOURS)

Didier Rivas is still waiting for answers — 10 months after the tragic death of his newborn.


He and his wife Kate continue to grieve their daughter Ireland, who died after a complicated hospital delivery that left both mother and child fighting for their lives.

But the past year has only compounded the pain of the Coquitlam couple’s loss, with an inquiry process Rivas says has been marked by a lack of communication, transparency and accountability. He and his wife are still waiting on details of what led to their daughter’s death and whether involved hospital staff will be reprimanded.

“We’ve been shut out of the whole process,” he said.

At a meeting of the Fraser Health Authority’s board of directors Wednesday, Rivas said that Royal Columbian Hospital staff ignored signs of his wife’s distress, allowing her labour to continue despite an undetected uterine rupture. The condition, which affects roughly one in 10,000 births, can be life-threatening to both the mother and infant.

After being born limp, the baby was resuscitated and later transferred to hospice, where she died four weeks later. Suffering complications, Kate spent two weeks in hospital and was discharged with multiple conditions, including a wound infection and a split cervix, said Rivas.

He launched a formal complaint with the hospital, but six months passed before a reply arrived. The letter of apology that came was impersonal and unprofessional, said Rivas. Today he does not know where the inquiry process stands and has had almost no communication from hospital staff or the Health Authority.

As questions and pain remain, he appealed to the board for changes to the medical inquiry process to allow for greater transparency and accountability.

Board chair Wynne Powell acknowledged the tragedy of the Rivas family’s circumstances and noted two new medical policies have been implemented since to aid with complicated deliveries.

But as for Rivas’ claims of the inquiry system, he said there is high accountability within it, recognition of which may come in time.

“The changes that Rivas would like to see, many of them are underway or already exist,” said Powell.


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