Girl was left severely disabled after being starved of oxygen for 30 minutes, lawyer claims The Tuen Mun Hospital should be held liable for the botched birth of an infant girl who was left severely disabled by being starved of oxygen for more than 30 minutes before her delivery, a court heard yesterday. Counsel for the mother and child, Michael Ozorio SC, described the case as one in which Cheng Wai-yi - now nearly five - should have been born normally on September 25, 1998. He said when her mother, Chum Oi-wa, 41, gave birth by an emergency caesarean section at 8.18pm, the baby was not breathing. After being resuscitated with oxygen, Wai-yi was placed in neo-natal care while her mother was rushed to the intensive case unit after losing 3.5 litres of blood. Wai-yi has since been diagnosed as suffering from spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, a condition caused by the starvation of oxygen to the foetus. Mr Ozorio read from an expert report which found Wai-yi had sustained the damage in the last hour of her mother's pregnancy. 'If she had been born before 7.50pm she would not have the brain damage,' Mr Ozorio said, citing the report. Mr Ozorio said it was agreed by the parties that the mother had suffered from a rare condition called placental abruption, which occurs when the placenta becomes separated from the cervix, severely limiting the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the baby. He also said the placental abruption had been gradual, a claim that would be disputed by the hospital, which maintained it was a sudden development that could not have been prevented or predicted. But Mr Ozorio said what was central to his clients' case was the level of proper care given to Ms Chum. If Ms Chum's case had been managed properly that day, the injuries and disabilities to her and her baby would have been avoided, he said. 'It is the plaintiff's case that the examination and care by Dr Kelvin Kong Sai-wah at that time was inadequate and that if he had carried out a proper examination of her and listened to her complaints ... the damage suffered by the two plaintiffs would have been avoided,' he said. The action is also seeking to hold the Tuen Mun Hospital liable, in the name of the Hospital Authority. In the event that liability is established, the door is open for Ms Chum and her daughter to claim damages. Mr Ozorio said if hospital staff had been properly trained, they would have recognised the placental abruption was occurring and moved earlier to assist the mother and child. He said a portable machine that measures foetal heartbeats could have easily been used much earlier, a move which would have detected the baby was stressed. Ms Chum, who has another daughter, aged nine, also would testify that her concerns that something was wrong were ignored, Mr Ozorio said. 'She knew what normal labour felt like,' he said. 'She would say that she was in considerable pain and that the pain increased throughout the day and the pain was not the pain she associated with the birth of her previous child. 'She complained to the nurses and was ignored.' Mr Ozorio said another cornerstone of his client's case was that if Ms Chum had been taken seriously and properly examined, she would have been sent to the labour ward much earlier. 'An earlier decision would have been made to deliver [Wai-yi] by Caesarean section so that all of the damage suffered by mother and child could and would have been avoided,' he said. The trial continues today before Mr Justice Azizul Suffiad in the Court of First Instance.