Family awaits little Ariah’s autopsy

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Ariah Sheppard –

PARENTS of Ariah Sheppard are anxiously awaiting the results of her autopsy for closure after their last child died on Tuesday night.

Speaking with Newsday at her Sea Lots home on Thursday afternoon, Keisha Roland said she last saw her daughter on Tuesday afternoon during a video call on WhatsApp. Less than three hours later her child was declared dead at the Toco Health Facility.

Roland blames the slow response of the health services and the sense of her childhood village of Matelot being an afterthought for the Eastern Regional Health Authority, which did not have an ambulance in place.

Roland said her daughters were spending the holidays with their maternal grandmother and were dropped off last Saturday.

Ariah is the last of Roland’s four daughters.

During the video call, Roland said Ariah’s lip looked cracked and when she asked about it she was told Ariah was not well and had been vomiting.

During the call, Roland said she found her daughter’s appeared to be “getting stiff stiff,” and it was advised that she get immediate medical attention.

“I was hearing them on the phone trying to get an ambulance, calling how much times to get the driver. They even called the police station to see if the jeep could have gotten her out, but that was in Mathura or Toco. And on top of that, the road in a mess.”

She said the on-call driver for the ambulance, which is parked at the Grande Riviere Outreach Centre, is based in Matelot and attempts to contact him repeatedly were unsuccessful. The family eventually got a neighbour to take them to the Toco Accident and Emergency Department.

In a statement on Thursday, the ERHA said at about 5.20 pm, a relative of the on-call driver received a call from the child’s relative for an ambulance. The driver’s relative advised the girl’s relative to call the Toco emergency facility, which they did.

The statement said a nurse at the facility was told that the child had been ailing for six days and relatives needed advice on what to do. The nurse told relatives that the child needed immediate care and while calling the on-call driver, an off-duty worker called the accident and emergency and told them he was bringing the child.

“The nurse therefore discontinued her efforts to reach the driver. Meanwhile the driver reported that after waiting some 30 minutes for a call from the Toco Accident and Emergency Department, he visited the family and was informed that the child was already transported to the Toco Health Facility.

“The child arrived unresponsive 6.10 pm and was immediately assessed by the medical staff. All attempts were made to resuscitate Ariah who was pronounced dead at 6.59 pm”

Roland denied that her child was sick for the past six days. She showed Newsday a video of the child dancing on Saturday.

“Then I am getting three days of bereavement leave from work (ending Friday). What will that do for me? Who could grieve in that short space of time. Who? A robot?

“No human being going through this can grieve in that space of time.”

Roland, reflecting on Ariah’s short life said: “It’s your children supposed to bury you. She was so loving. Her father used to call her “Twinkles” because of her happy nature. All who ever encountered her are in tears now.”

Ariah was expected to start pre-school in September.