The family of a mother who lost her unborn baby girl after she was forced to travel 750km for an urgent operation because of Queensland’s border restrictions has broken their silence.
Kimberley Brown and her husband Scott, from Ballina, in northern New South Wales, were told on August 12 that their twins had developed twin to twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS).
The disorder occurs in pregnancies where the twins share a placenta and the blood is unevenly distributed, leading to malnourishment and organ failure for one donor twin.
Mrs Brown needed urgent surgery but despite living just two hours away from Queensland’s Mater Hospital doctors told her she would need to apply for a border exemption, which could take too long.
Instead the couple waited 16 hours for an emergency flight to Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
Yesterday, Mrs Brown learned after an ultrasound that she had lost one of the babies.
Mrs Brown’s father Alan Watt said the ordeal was extremely distressing for the family.
‘I am just really upset – I don’t know what to say. I am really upset this has gone as far as it had,’ Mr Watt told Seven News.
‘We don’t blame anyone for what happened. It is just one of those things that happen.
‘We just hope [the other unborn child] makes it through to a happy ending.’
Mr Watt said the family understands the outcome for the couple may have been the same if they were able to go to Queensland for medical assistance.
However he says that more time could have given the unborn twins an extra chance they needed.
Wayne Jones, chief executive of the Northern NSW Local Health District, told Nine News that the ‘preferred location for the family to give birth was at a hospital in Brisbane.’
‘But under the Queensland Border Direction at the time, the woman and her husband would have had to quarantine at a government hotel for 14 days at their own expense prior to the procedure,’ he said.
Queensland Health told Seven News that the couple would have been granted access to medical treatment in the state.
They claim that no exemption or request for transfer was applied for on their behalf.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the case ‘terribly heartbreaking’ and ‘distressing’.
He issued a fresh appeal for states to open their borders on Friday and said Australia faced ‘economic ruin’ if the restrictions continue.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said last week the decision about who to let into Queensland would be made by health professionals, not politicians.
‘People living in NSW have NSW hospitals. In Queensland, we have Queensland hospitals for our people,’ she said.
On Friday she said that anyone who needs urgent medical care, and Queensland is deemed the best place for it, won’t be turned away.
Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young said not a single person who applied for a medical exemption had been turned away.
‘But for those people wanting to come to Queensland for the first time for care, I am questioning — I am not denying, but I am questioning — why can’t you get this care in New South Wales?’ she during a press conference on Friday.
‘New South Wales has got very, very good hospitals and healthcare.
‘I actually genuinely believe, and we do this in Queensland, that whenever possible you should get care close to where you live.
‘You shouldn’t be travelling for hours to get care.’