A trauma doctor who examined a two-month-old baby boy at a Pretoria hospital four years ago testified that severe violence had been used on the baby, who had severe brain bleeds and a cracked skull, and that the child could have bled to death.
Dr Anita Groenewald testified in the trial of a former couple of Rayton, who pleaded not guilty to charges of attempting to murder their baby in December 2012 and severely assaulting the baby boy and his twin sister.
The little boy was rushed to the Wilgers Hospital in the east of Pretoria in the early hours of Christmas morning after he apparently stopped breathing at home. He was later transferred to the intensive care unit at the Unitas Hospital, where his skull had to be opened to stop pressure on his brain caused by a number of brain bleeds from different ages.
Dr Groenewald said the history given by the mother was that the baby boy had cried all morning, did not want to drink his bottle and suddenly became floppy and appeared to have stopped breathing before he was rushed to hospital. When she examined the baby, he was not moving, had no reflexes and did not open his eyes. She regarded it as an emergency and arranged for a neurosurgeon to see the baby, who recommended that the child should be transferred to the intensive care unit.
The neurosurgeon had asked her if they suspected non-accidental injury because the brain bleeds appeared to be of different ages and he had worrying blue marks on his ear and fingers. Dr Groenewald said one fall alone would not have caused the baby boy’s cracked severe injuries and there must have been more than one incident.
She testified that a linear blue mark on the baby’s buttock looked as if it had been caused by a belt or a stick. She said the baby boy could have bled to death and a lack of oxygen could also have caused damage to all of his organs and death.
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Dr Hennie Roelofse, a paediatrician who examined the baby boy’s sister, testified that the baby girl had shown signs of fractured ribs and an injury to her leg that had already started to heal. The injuries must have been caused by severe external trauma like being shaken or pressed and would have resulted in a very irritated, crying baby, he said.
The trial continues.