Birth of baby without a face leads to doctor’s suspension

Obstetrician has six other complaints against him, dating back more than a decade

Samuel Osborne
Friday 25 October 2019 14:01
Birth of baby without a face leads to doctor’s suspension

The birth of a baby without eyes, a nose and missing parts of its skull, prompted Portugal‘s Medical Council to suspend an obstetrician for six months over allegations of negligence.

Dr Artur Carvalho reportedly performed three mandatory ultrasounds on the mother of the boy known as Rodrigo at a private clinic. He did not report any concerns.

However, his mother then had a more detailed 5D ultrasound at a different clinic when she was six months pregnant.

Medics there raised possibility of abnormalities, but Rodrigo’s aunt said he dismissed their concerns.

“He explained that sometimes some parts of the face are not visible (on ultrasounds)... when the baby’s face is glued to the belly of the mother,” Rodrigo’s aunt told a local broadcaster.

The extent of his deformities only became clear after he was born in a hospital in Setubal.

Dr Carvalho has not commented publicly on the allegations.

But it has since emerged that the obstetrician has six other complaints against him involving other babies. Some date back more than a decade.

Although Rodrigo was reportedly given only hours to live, he has survived for more than two weeks under hospital care.

As concerns about the case made headlines in Portugal, other complaints about Dr Carvalho’s alleged failure to detect health issues in babies have emerged.

In one case, a baby was born in 2011 with deformed legs, facial disfigurement and severe brain damage.

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The child’s mother, Laura Afonso, told Publico newspaper she had submitted a criminal complaint against Dr Carvalho only for it to be dismissed by a prosecutor, the BBC reported.

Her child, now aged eight, had multiple operations but still cannot speak or walk.

The newspaper also reported that another criminal case where the child died months after they were born in 2007 was reportedly dismissed without reaching trial.

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