Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Defence Tells Calgary Trial Hospital, Not Parents' Neglect, Caused Child's Death

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Defence Tells Calgary Trial Hospital, Not Parents' Neglect, Caused Child's Death

Article excerpt

Defence begins for accused parents in child's death

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CALGARY - A jury heard testimony Monday that a 14-month-old boy's treatment in hospital, not malnutrition or an overwhelming infection, was to blame for the baby's death.

Jeromie and Jennifer Clark have pleaded not guilty to criminal negligence causing death and failure to provide the necessaries of life for their son John.

Jeromie Clark's lawyer David Chow called Anny Sauvageau, Alberta's former chief medical examiner, as an expert witness on Monday.

She contradicted testimony from the current chief medical examiner, Elizabeth Brooks-Lim, that suggested John was malnourished and died of sepsis.

Sauvageau looked at John's autopsy report, a neuropathologist's report, medical records and photographs. She said the child most likely died of an "overly aggressive correction" of the sodium in his blood.

The jury has already heard doctors gave John saline fluids after his parents took him to a Calgary hospital on Nov. 28, 2013. He died the following day after suffering a seizure and two cardiac arrests.

When John came to hospital his sodium levels were very low at 107 millimoles per litre and that was raised to by 17 millimoles within an hour, Sauvageau said.

She said there should never be an increase of four to six millimoles per litre within that time span.

"We know for sure that the sodium was very low and that it was corrected way too fast compared to what is recommended," Sauvageau testified.

Sauvageau said it was also problematic that John was given so much fluid so quickly because it diluted his blood.

"No human body can go through that and adapt in an hour," she said.

Sauvageau also suggested John's small size was due to a hormonal issue rather than malnutrition. She based that in part on the proportions of his body.

For instance, she said, when children are malnourished, they normally lose weight before deficiencies affect their growth. …

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