baby

In 2016, a hospital mistakenly gave baby Amelia poisonous gas. Now, her parents have spoken.

On June 20 in 2016, Benish Khan gave birth to her first child, a baby called Amelia, in theatre eight of Sydney’s Bankstown Hospital.

Her partner, Danial Khan, was so excited, he began capturing the milestone moment on film, recording the first few moment of their newborn’s life.

What the new parents didn’t know was that one year before, in 2015, a tragic error of negligence had occurred during an upgrade at the hospital. When new medical gas lines were being installed, one line was labelled as oxygen, but in fact was connected to a tank of nitrous oxide.

As it unfolded, as captured on Danial’s camera, their child was ostensibly receiving oxygen, but was instead inhaling nitrous oxide. The mask – pumping poison into her tiny body – was suffocating baby Amelia, leaving her without oxygen on and off for at least an hour.

It left little Amelia with irreversible brain damage, and she is now in constant need of high-level care.

nitrous oxide baby
Amelia was left severely brain damaged. Image: Channel Nine.

"We remain full of hope for Amelia's future but we worry for her and want to do everything we can to make sure she has the best life she possibly can," the young couple said in a statement at the time, as the tragedy made national headlines.

"It's devastating as a parent to be told that your precious daughter has suffered permanent brain damage," they added.

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"We just want everyone to know what happened to Amelia won't ever go away.

"She will always have to live with the consequences of what was done to her at the hospital."

Now, in their first interview, Benish and Danial Khan spoke with 60 Minutes on Sunday night, recalling the devastating moments they realised something wasn't right.

"To this day, I remember in that theatre listening to her cries in between the gassing, listening to them take that mask off for that couple of seconds, hearing her squealing, just not the sound that a baby makes… it was the sound that a baby makes in pain," Benish told 60 Minutes.

"It is just something that haunts you forever."

nitrous oxide baby
Amelia is now four-years-old. Image: Channel Nine.

Benish remembers: "They were just like, ‘More than 50 per cent of her brain is damaged and she will most likely not be able to move. She won’t be able to eat. She won’t even be able to come off life support without her passing away'."

Amelia survived despite the medical prognosis, but now four-years-old, she continues to suffer from the severe brain damage caused.

"You would never for a second think that in a country like Australia, something like this can happen," Benish said. "There are people at fault for this."

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"I am angry about this. And you know what? What they've done is a terrible thing."

They now know that a contractor who installed the gas lines had signed official paperwork to confirm he had tested the gas lines, when in fact he had not. That contractor has since pleaded guilty to serious workplace health and safety breaches.

"It's not good enough, and I don't know what else to expect because at every turn we've been disappointed with how everything was handled from the get go," Amelia's father, Danial, said.

Their case was a catalyst for legislative change in New South Wales, with the NSW Parliament this week confirming they will tighten the regulation surrounding contractors installing medical gas in hospitals.

Remarkably, Benish and Danial say they "do forgive".

"We've accepted what happened to Amelia. I can't imagine Amelia in any other way, she's funny, she's strong, she's resilient," Danial told 60 Minutes.

You can watch the full 60 Minutes episode featuring their story here

Feature image: Channel Nine.


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