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‘Take ‘Kuwaiti’ woman to Brisbane for delivery’

KUWAIT CITY, Jan 29: Doctors have pleaded for a heavily pregnant refugee on Nauru island facing a complex and possibly life-threatening birth to be moved to an Australian hospital, reports Al-Rai daily quoting BuzzFeed website.

The woman is a 37-year-old Kuwaiti and more than 35 weeks pregnant. Her baby is in breech and she has a large fibroid or benign tumor on the wall of her uterus. She has previously had a miscarriage on Nauru.

However, the website is unsure whether the woman is a Kuwaiti or a resident in Kuwait. But the Australian government says she must deliver her baby on Nauru, saying there are ‘comprehensive’ medical services available on the island. The woman, whom the Guardian has chosen not to name, has been prescribed the antidepressant drug Citalopram, a pregnancy class C medication that, Australian guidelines state, has “caused or may be suspected of causing, harmful effects on the human fetus”.

According to the drug’s manufacturer, possible effects on the newborn include persistent pulmonary hypertension, respiratory distress, cyanosis, apnea, seizures, temperature instability, feeding difficulty, vomiting and hypoglycemia among others. The Guardian has confirmed the woman remains on Nauru, despite medical transfer flights leaving the island this week.

“Meanwhile, it has been reported the Department of Immigration and Border Protection does not comment on individuals’ medical situations. The department’s chief medical officer, Dr John Brayley, was made aware of the woman’s impending complex delivery a month ago. In subsequent correspondence sent last week, the president of Doctors for Refugees, Dr Barri Phatarfod, told Brayley: “We have discussed this case with Australian obstetric specialists who all agree that she should definitely come to Australia for the delivery, cautioning that elective breech vaginal deliveries have recently had some quite adverse outcomes in Australia and that any external cephalic version (manually turning a breech baby) attempt should only be done by experienced obstetricians in the presence of an operating theatre and team ready to proceed to immediate caesarean section and with appropriate neonatal expertise and facilities on hand.

The risks to her life, and to her baby’s life, are very significant. Phatarfod told the Guardian that the woman faced a “very complex delivery”. “The risks to her life, and to her baby’s life, are very significant,” she said. “In pregnancy, and in the delivery of babies, when things go wrong, they can go dreadfully wrong. But she can be given the best possible care very simply by being brought to Australia. Fly her to Brisbane and allow her to deliver at the Mater (hospital in Sydney) or the RBH (in Brisbane).”

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