Coroner's Court of Western Australia

Inquest into the Death of Child MD (Name Subject to a Suppression Order)

Inquest into the Death of Child MD (Name Subject to Suppression Order)

Delivered on : 17 November 2023

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : Coroner Urquhart

Recommendations : N/A

Orders/Rules : N/A

Suppression Order : Yes

Suppression of the deceased child’s name from publication and any evidence likely to lead to the child’s identification. The deceased is to be referred to as Child MD.

Summary : Child MD was in the care of the Chief Executive Officer (the CEO) of the Department of Communities (the Department) at the time of his death. Child MD was 2 years 10 months old when he died. As he was a person held in care, Child MD’s death was subject to a mandatory inquest.

Child MD was born at King Edward Memorial Hospital (KEMH), Subiaco, by emergency caesarean section on 1 July 2018. Shortly after he was born, he was admitted into the neonatal ICU at KEMH due to congenital abnormalities.

Child MD was subsequently diagnosed with Cockayne syndrome, an extremely rare and incurable genetic condition that has a limited life expectancy. It causes growth delay, progressive microcephaly and developmental delay. As there is no treatment to cure Cockayne syndrome, medical management is mainly supportive and aimed towards improving the person’s quality of life. Throughout his short life, Child MD received multi-disciplinary treatment at KEMH, Perth Children’s Hospital (PCH) and Boddington Hospital.

Due to concerns involving his mother’s mental health, drug use and exposure to family and domestic violence, the Department began an intake for neglect and commenced pre-birth planning before Child MD was born. Two days after his birth, Child MD was placed into the provisional protection and care of the CEO of the Department. On 24 July 2018, Child MD was placed into the care of a foster carer from his family. He remained with that carer and under the protection and care of the Department’s CEO for the remainder of his life.

On 25 April 2021, Child MD was taken to Boddington Hospital with increased lethargy, poor oral intake and vomiting. A decision was made to urgently transfer him to PCH by Royal Flying Doctor Service where he was admitted to the paediatric ICU. On 29 April 2021, Child MD’s condition deteriorated with severe cardiorespiratory collapse and multiorgan dysfunction. On 10 May 2021, a meeting involving Child MD’s treating team, his foster carer, extended family and officers from the Department decided that Child MD would only be provided with medical treatment that would keep him comfortable.

On 12 May 2021, Child MD died in his foster carer’s arms from multiorgan failure with clinically suspected sepsis and Cockayne syndrome.

The Coroner was satisfied that the care provided by the Department and from the many health service providers who looked after Child MD was of a very high standard. The Coroner also noted the very special bond that existed between Child MD and his foster carer who had provided him with her unconditional love and support.     

Catch Words : Person Held in Care : Cockayne Syndrome : Care, Supervision and Treatment While in Care: Department of Communities : Natural Causes

Last updated: 13-Dec-2023

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