A GRIEVING family are seeking a Fatal Accident Inquiry into the death of their baby after contracting an infection at Scotland’s flagship super hospital.

Theresa and Matthew Smith, from Greenock, held their baby daughter Sophia as she died in April 2017.

Sophia was just 12 days old when she passed away, having contracted a rare form version of Staphylococcus Aureus while receiving Treatment at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH)’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

At the time, the family did not know Sophia had the infection and only discovered after they demanded a postmortem be carried out.

Sophia’s death certificate does not list the infection, MSSA-PVL, as the cause of her death. The infection, which is rare to contract within hospital and is similar to the superbug MRSA, caused baby Sophia’s organs to fail and she developed sepsis.

Mrs Smith said: “She was black from the waist down. We asked them why she was like that, they wouldn’t tell us.

“We had no idea Sophia had MSSA-PVL, we weren’t told. We felt something was not right and had to push for a post mortem. Only months later did we find out what had actually happened to her,”

Sophia was born on March 31, 2017, with initial breathing problems and was transferred to the £842m hospital’s NICU unit within hours of her birth.

Her mum said she was put on oxygen, but after a few days was responding well to treatment.

She explained: “We were at the stage of talking with staff about her getting out and coming home for Easter, and how that would play out. We discussed whether she would need a bit of oxygen, you know, a tube for her nose.

“The consultant told us, he kept repeating the phrase ‘Sophia has walked her way out of the woods’.”

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The couple stayed at Ronald McDonald House, the accommodation reserved for families whose children are ill and they cannot leave them overnight.

Mrs Smith said they had left the NICU, and returned to the accommodation for some sleep, as they thought Sophia was safe and recovering however the following day their baby’s condition had deteriorated.

The mother explained: “Sophia had started off at the hospital with a lot of machinery, and she had started off needing 100% oxygen. At that point we were discussing her leaving the hospital, she was down to needing about 17%.

“When we went back to the NICU we asked the nurse how Sophia was doing today and she just said ‘Oh, not very good’. We were panicked, we had never had a negative response - the whole way through she had progressed.

“Through the course of this day, the oxygen levels went back up and all the machinery w as built back up around her . Nobody could tell us what was happening, we were asked to go into the family room.

“The consultant didn’t engage with us. He didn’t want to answer questions. We weren’t really allowed to see her at that point.

“He told us they had found blood in her windpipe and thought she needed a heart and lung bypass. This was the start of a nightmare, really. She had the operation, and we were told she was stable and we should try and get some sleep.

“We went back to Ronald McDonald House that evening and after about 40 minutes we were told Sophia was losing her battle and we should come back.”

The family were in shock at the rapid deterioration of their baby daughter, who had just days earlier seemed to be preparing to leave the hospital.

“We went back in to see her, and the machine she was hooked up to...it looked like a spaceship. There was blood being pumped in and out of her. It was the most horrific thing I have ever seen in my life.

She was black from the waist down. We asked why, and weren’t given an answer. When we went back into the room they had covered over her bottom half with a blanket, I think to just save us from having to see her this way.

“We held her until she passed away,.”

Mrs Smith said less than an hour after Sophia died, on April 11 2017, she was asked to sign a death certificate. Her husband Matthew signed the document, as she was too distressed. Later the family questioned the reasons for Sophia’s death with hospital chiefs and asked for a post mortem, as they did not understand what had happened.

After several months, Ms Smith said, they were called to meet with the health board and shown the post mortem, which concluded Sophia had contracted MSSA-PVL.

The infection is similar to MRSA, with the ‘PVL’ relating to a type of toxin produced by the bacteria. It can cause sepsis and organ failure, but is most commonly found in the community rather than in a hospital environment.

Mrs Smith said: “Sophia had never left the hospital, so we asked if she had got this infection there. We were told ‘yes’. They thought it had come from her central line.

“I couldn’t understand how in this new hospital, which cost more than £800m, with all these fancy machines, firstly they did not notice she was deteriorating given she was in a unit with one-to-one care, but also how this could have happened.

“We asked for a copy of the post mortem, but they said they couldn’t give us one, and we would have to apply for a copy. It took months.”

Mrs Smith said that when news of other infections started coming out from the QEUH and Royal Hospital for Children (RHC) she was shocked, and believes her child died as a result of problems with the facility.

She is now calling for a Fatal Accident Inquiry into what happened to Sophia, and said : “I think they just want me to go away, but I won’t.

“I can’t until I know exactly what happened and why.

“A Fatal Accident Inquiry would get to the bottom of that, and we hope this will happen. We have to get justice for our daughter. This isn’t about politics, this is not about seeking attention. I don’t want to have to do this,but I feel it is the only way I’ll get answers.”

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Mrs Smith is being represented by Thomsons Solicitors, with lawyers at the firm now seeking an FAI to further the family's search for answers.

The lawfirm are also representing several other families, including the mother of Milly Main, who have had children die or become sick while being treated at the hospital.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said it was unable to comment on Sophia Smith's case.

A spokeswoman said: "This is a tragic case and our thoughts and sympathies remain with the family. Due to patient confidentiality, we are unable to comment further about a specific case."