Unassisted during child's birth, couple to demand compensation from Brussels hospital

Unassisted during child's birth, couple to demand compensation from Brussels hospital
A couple will demand compensation from Brussels' Erasme hospital, after medical staff failed to assist them in delivering their baby. Credit: Francoise Bocksruth/Google Street View

A couple who was left alone to deliver their own child in a Brussels hospital will demand compensation from the institution after the father on Wednesday said he had to deliver his own child while medical staff were "chatting in the coffee room."

After admitting the expecting mother into the maternity ward of Anderlecht's Erasmus hospital a fortnight ago, medical staff drew blood from her in preparation for an epidural injection and left the room, a procedure that a hospital representative later referred to as standard.

But according to statements by the father, 33-year-old Omar Sebbata, "the real work started fifteen minutes later," as his wife —Sarah Laaroussi, 27 —started experiencing intense and frequent contractions.

"Sarah had labour pains every five minutes, so we called for a nurse," Sebbata told Bruzz.

The couple then said that a nurse came to the room but later left again after asking the couple to be patient as they waited for the blood test's results. When Laaroussi's contractions continued, her husband called the ward's staff again but nobody came, according to reports.

The intense contractions were quickly followed by the water breaking, and Sebbata said that despite pushing the assistance button repeatedly, he ended up delivering his baby himself.

"I delivered the baby — I put him on her chest," he said. "If I hadn't been there, [the baby] would have dropped to the ground," Sebbata told RTL.

"The midwives and nurses were chatting in the coffee room at the time of the birth of our son Samy," he said, adding that he would demand compensation from the hospital.

Erasmus representatives said they "regretted" the parents' "traumatic" birth experience, but said that when administering an epidural, they must follow certain procedures.

"We sincerely regret that the short period between their arrival and the birth did not allow for us to administer it epidural," spokesperson Elise Dubuisson said, adding that the baby's quick birth had been "unpredictable."

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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