Parents of Aishwarya Aswath say staff at Perth Children’s Hospital ignored their pleas for help as her daughter lay dying

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The mother of a seven-year-old girl who died at Perth Children’s Hospital says she pleaded with staff to help her daughter but was not taken seriously.

Aishwarya Aswath died in April last year after attending Perth Children’s Hospital (PCH) with a high temperature and cold hands.

Perth Coroner’s Court today heard a statement from Aishwarya’s mother, Prasitha Sasidharan, who described how she grew increasingly worried about her daughter as she lay in the waiting room of the hospital.

She approached the staff five times while they were in the waiting room for nearly two hours.

“I begged for someone to come see her,” Ms Sasidharan said.

“I joined my hands and begged.”

Parents plead “ignored”

Ms Sasidharan said her requests went unanswered.

“I feel like I was ignored and not taken seriously,” she said.

The court heard from both parents today, the start of an eight-day investigation.

Aishwarya died after waiting nearly two hours for treatment at Perth Children’s Hospital.(ABC News: Keane Bourke)

In the two days before Aishwarya died, parents described how their children played football together, ate ice cream and slept together in the living room.

When Aishwarya first complained of a headache, her mother attributed it to ice cream, air conditioning and a late night.

A head shot of a smiling girl in a frame surrounded by red flowers.
A coroner’s inquest into the death of Aishwarya Aswath is ongoing in Perth.(Provided: Suresh Rajan)

But she continued to deteriorate and her parents decided to take her to PCH.

They chose not to attend the local Midland emergency hospital because they believed she would be better served by the specialized children’s facility.

Aishwarya’s vision deteriorated

In the waiting room, they grew increasingly worried as Aishwarya complained to her parents that her skin and eyes were “dirty” and she was having trouble seeing.

Ms Sasidharan said she noticed discoloration in her daughter’s eyes, and they managed to get the attention of a male doctor who checked Aishwarya’s eyes.

A close up of Aishwarya Aswath's mother, Prasitha Sasidharan, with her husband partially visible standing next to her.
Aishwarya’s mother, Prasitha Sasidharan, arrived at the inquest before a statement was read out on her behalf.(ABC News: Keane Bourke)

Aishwarya’s father, Aswath Chavittupara, said the doctor “barely made eye contact” with him and his wife.

“He barely spoke to us before he left,” Mr Chavittupara said.

Another nurse came to check his heart rate and blood pressure, but was unable to get an accurate reading of his blood oxygen saturation due to faulty equipment.

Ms Sasidharan said they waited a long time before they brought in another nurse who tried to get Aishwarya to take anti-inflammatory pills but the little girl couldn’t swallow them.

Ms Sasidharan said the nurse seemed annoyed with Aishwarya.

“I think she was very rude,” Ms Sasidharan said.

No urgency in the medical response

She detailed how they were finally taken out of the waiting room, but there seemed to be no urgency, until another member of staff assessed Aishwarya and she was taken to the recovery area. intensive care.

Aishwarya’s heart stopped beating and staff tried to revive her, but to no avail.

A wide shot of Aishwarya Aswath's parents walking along a path alongside two men, one of whom
Parents of Aishwarya (right) hope the investigation will put an end to what happened to her.(ABC News: Keane Bourke)

Ms Sasidharan said they were told Aishwarya could not be saved.

“We entered the room and begged the staff to save her,” she said.

After Aishwarya died, her father wanted to hold her but was only allowed to do so for a short time.

In his statement, read in court, he said there were “many missed opportunities to save her”.

Fight for answers

Earlier, the family’s spokesperson, Suresh Rajan, told reporters outside the court that the family were hoping for answers.

“Everything we’ve been through for the last 16 months, the fight for justice, the effort to find answers, the hunger strike, etc., was just to find answers to what happened. exactly,” Mr. Rajan read.

“In order for us to change the system, we need to understand exactly what happened that night.

“The days of the inquest are going to be incredibly painful, but we see this as an opportunity for the coroner to now undertake a truly comprehensive and independent review of Aishwarya’s care which took place at Perth Children’s Hospital. “

Portrait of a bearded man with his fist clenched
Suresh Rajan says family are still looking for answers on what exactly happened(ABC News: Keane Bourke)

The inquest is to be heard today by former PCH chief executive Aresh Anwar.

Dr Anwar tendered his resignation about two weeks ago.

Head and shoulders shot of man in suit, tie and glasses speaking at press conference in front of two flags.
Aresh Anwar is due to appear today before the inquest.(ABC News)

Other witnesses include nurses and doctors working in the ER that night, but the inquest will also hear from other senior staff, including co-director of ER nursing and director of clinical services Susan Baker , and interim chief executive Simon Wood.

Australian Nursing Federation WA Secretary Janet Reah is also in the public gallery today in support of her members.

She told the court that the government and the hospital had known for six months before Aishwarya’s death that the emergency department was “short of critical staff”.

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A coroner’s inquest into the death of Aishwarya Aswath is set to look into WA’s healthcare system.

She has previously raised concerns that junior staff were being blamed for an incident caused by systemic failures.

The inquest is expected to last eight days.

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