Adonis' mother told the BBC:
Adonis' mother told the BBC: "He was a baby, he didn't deserve that at all, none of it". Image: a family handout

Parents of baby boy who died in Portimão hospital claim ‘unforgivable injustice’

“We are determined to uncover the truth”

The British parents of the baby boy who died recently in Portimão Hospital after hours of delay in transferring him to specialised care are demanding answers, “justice” – and “an apology for how they were treated”.

Now back in England, Deza Powell and Paul Larochelle have told BBC news “We want accountability, we want an apology, we want someone to acknowledge him, because at the end of the day he was a baby.”

The couple have already started fundraising for legal representation to “ensure” that their little boy’s “precious life was not in vain, and that his legacy becomes a beacon of change in the face of medical negligence”.

As the Resident has reported, an internal inquiry into this case was opened after the death in Portimão Hospital of 10-month-old Adonis on May 19.

Authorities have stressed throughout that ‘everything possible was done‘ – but this does not explain the logistical issues (see below) that meant the baby was not able to be transferred to a specialist pediatric unit, and suffered as a result of a ‘six hour delay’, which the parents’ describe as “agonizing”.

Six hours felt like an eternity, stealing precious time that Adonis could have spent fighting for his life”, they write on their gofundme page, which has already collected over €2,000 (the target is €75,000).

As the text continues: “The crucial treatment Adonis required never reached him during those excruciating hours. It was an unforgivable injustice that no parent should ever have to endure. Despite the numerous blood tests, x-rays, and physical examinations, we are left without a concrete explanation for our baby boy’s untimely departure. Each time we sought answers, the reasons seemed to change, leaving us in a state of confusion.

“Our family now stands united in seeking justice for Adonis. We are determined to uncover the truth, to shed light on the circumstances that led to this heartbreaking loss. But we cannot do this alone. We humbly ask for your support to raise the necessary funds for legal representation, administrative tasks, investigations, expert witnesses, court fees, and obtaining critical medical records. Your contribution will not only help us seek the justice our precious Adonis deserves but also bring us closer to understanding this unimaginable tragedy.

“Every donation, no matter how small, will be a ray of hope in our darkest hour. It will help us carry the weight of this unbearable pain and allow us to channel our grief into action. Please stand with us as we fight for justice, as we navigate this harrowing journey in memory of our beloved Adonis. Together, let us ensure that his precious life was not in vain and that his legacy becomes a beacon of change in the face of medical negligence”.

The BBC’s story online shows that it spoke with the Ministry of Health, which repeated much of what it said to news media in Portugal at the time. It “deeply regrets the outcome of this case and sends its condolences to the bereaved family“.

A spokesperson added: “Appropriate paediatric care was provided to this child by the Portuguese SNS. Unfortunately, it was not possible to reverse the worsening of the clinical situation.

Inquiries into the procedures adopted in this case are ongoing.”

Perhaps the biggest question centres on the initial diagnosis, when Adonis was first presented to doctors on May 17 “struggling to breathe” on the second day of the family’s holiday here.

Says the BBC, the family were confident the baby would be well looked after as they had travel insurance. “They say they were told Adonis probably had a chest infection, and were sent home with an asthma pump, ibuprofen and paracetamol.

“But the next day, his symptoms worsened again.

“He really slept well (but) he woke up and was crying, and I woke him up and he was like a rag doll. He was so floppy and his eye was swollen,” Ms Powell said.

It was at this point that the parents’ returned with Adonis to the hospital, and their nightmare began. By this time, their son had developed septicemia.

“His breathing was getting worse and worse and worse”, says his mother.

The family explain they did not understand what treatment Adonis was given, but when his condition stabilised they were told he was being transferred by air ambulance to an intensive care unit at a bigger hospital.

Mr Larochelle told the BBC: “Two hours went by and they were still in there working on the child when he was supposed to be being transferred, so all I could do was pray.”

A Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office spokesperson has confirmed: “We are supporting the family of a British child who died in Portugal and are in contact with the local authorities.”

The Embassy of Portugal has reportedly declined to comment, says the BBC.

Logistical issues:

The logistical issues include the fact that the TIP (the pediatric inter-hospital transport ambulance) was not available to rush Adonis to specialist intensive care, as there were no pediatricians available to man it.

The decision was made to airlift the baby by helicopter to Faro to ensure that he was stablised ahead of an eventual transfer to Hospital de Santa Cruz, in Lisbon, but as this solution was underway – with the baby in transit to Loulé, where the helicopter was waiting for him – the child’s condition worsened, involving a return to Portimão hospital where he later died, explained Correio da Manhã at the time.

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