'Non-viable' twins cling to life amid anger at Logan Hospital

The twins were expected to remain in hospital until after Christmas.
The twins were expected to remain in hospital until after Christmas. Photo: Christopher Swan

Logan Hospital is investigating claims it denied a couple the ability to give their premature twin babies a fighting chance at life.

At 22.5 weeks gestation, Dianna Radke, 29, went into labour and admitted herself to Logan Hospital where she was told the birth of her twin boys would be "non-viable" given their gestational age.

Her partner Christopher Swan claims she was initially refused medication to help delay the pregnancy and was refused a transfer to Mater Hospital.

The family have a long road ahead of them.
The family have a long road ahead of them. Photo: Christopher Swan

The couple have filed a complaint with Logan Hospital, which has launched an investigation into the matter.

"They told us that being 22 weeks and five days that they classify that as non-viable and the option to  (resuscitate) wouldn't be given," Mr Swan said.

"They (said they) will deliver the babies and place them on Dianna's chest, let her give them a hug and say goodbye."

According to the Queensland Health Clinical Guideline into perinatal care, life-sustaining interventions are not recommended for babies of less than 23 weeks gestation.

The Clinical Guideline also noted that in Queensland between 2000-08, 100 per cent of babies born at less than 22 weeks of gestation died.

Mr Swan said he asked whether his partner could be given magnesium and steroids for the infants' development and if they could be transferred to Mater Hospital to give his twins, who he said had strong beating hearts, a shot at life.

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"They told us we couldn't have the drugs, that they wouldn't work and that in about 20 minutes someone would come in and explain why they can't resuscitate and the steps that will happen during the labour," he said.

"We asked if we could be transferred to Mater Hospital knowing that Mater has a neonatal critical care unit that can actually handle this type of early pregnancy.

"They told us they had already called the Mater and the Mater said they wouldn't take us because of the gestational age."

Metro South Health acting chief executive Robert Mackway-Jones said Logan Hospital has the capacity to care for infants of 32 weeks gestational age and greater.

"In the unfortunate event of a woman presenting in premature or extreme premature labour, it is our policy for Logan maternity service to always contact our tertiary referral hospital (Mater) for direction."

About 20 hours after the couple were admitted, Mr Swan claims no medical staff had come in to explain the procedure to the couple.

At 3.30am on Saturday morning, when Ms Radke was rushed to the birthing suite, Mr Swan invoked Ryan's Rule – a three-step process implemented across Queensland in 2011 to provide patients, families and carers with another way to get medical help if not satisfied with the response being given.

Within minutes, she was given medication and rushed to Mater Hospital, Mr Swan said.

A statement from Mater Hospital confirmed a referral from Logan Hospital was accepted on May 6 but could not release any further details, citing patient confidentiality. 

Mr Swan said the staff at Mater Hospital had managed to hold the labour off for 36 hours.

"Dianna was a wreck, she was just waiting for the inevitable, unfortunately," Mr Swan said.

Ms Radke gave birth to twin boys – Maximus Andrew Branson at 579 grams and Nikolai James Richard at 669 grams.

Both babies have severe health issues including chronic lung disease and have undergone extensive surgery. The twins have been given a 20 per cent survival rate at this stage.

Mr Swan said the ordeal has "broken" his partner Dianna.

"She hasn't slept, between the both of us we have probably had 20-30 hours sleep in past two weeks if that," he said.

"She is up all night, she is crying all the time. She is very angry at the Logan (Hospital).

"They could have just been placed on her chest if we hadn't said anything. They would just be dead.

"Now we are in this predicament that every time they go in for an operation she just thinks this could all have been avoided."

Mr Swan has filed a complaint with Logan Hospital.

Mr Mackway-Jones confirmed Logan Hospital was investigating the the case.

"We are upset and empathetic for the mother and her partner that they are going through a traumatic time with their newborn twins," he said.

"We can confirm that our obstetrics doctors spent time with the parents at the start of their admission while deciding treatment options and consulting with the tertiary hospital on possible plans."

Mr Swan has also made contact with Slater and Gordon lawyers with regards to possible legal action.

Slater and Gordon lawyer Olamide Kowalik, who spoke with Mr Swan last Friday, said the case was something that "warrants proper investigation".

"Luckily for them they were aware of Ryan's Rule and were able to then evoke that," she said.