Four babies dead at Australian hospital after being denied lifesaving heart surgery

The shortage of cardiac care has been blamed for the deaths of four children in Adelaide’s Women’s and Children ‘s Hospital in the space of a month.

The SA Government has been accused of playing Russian roulette with children’s lives, with advanced therapies for infants not available in Adelaide.

Daniel and Simone Winkless say they can’t believe how close they were to losing their little girl last year due to lack of service.

Charlotte, a two-year-old, was affected by a serious respiratory disease in 2019.

She rushed to Melbourne for a form of life support called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).

ECMO and advanced heart operations were removed from the Women’s and Children ‘s Hospital 18 years ago.

Four babies in need of heart care have died in the last month alone.

“It’s just concerning that it comes down to chance whether your kid lives or dies, based on who is available interstate,” Daniel said.

Professor John Svigos of the Women’s and Children’s Alliance says death should be a wake-up call to the government.

“How many more deaths of babies and young children will the community and staff be forced to endure?” he asked.

COVID-19 limitations further delayed the rapid move from Adelaide to interstate hospitals.

Paediatric cardiologist Dr. Gavin Wheaton says the difference between life and death may be the provision of life support services.

“It is possible that, in some circumstances, ECMO may change the outcome for some children and babies,” he said.

Women’s and Children’s Hospital CEO Lindsey Gough disputes that lack of facilities is about cost-effectivness.

She says that there are clearly not enough cases in Adelaide for workers to maintain their skills.

“This is not about money at all, this is about a sustainable, safe service,” Gough said.

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