A local doctor says the baby of pregnant 27-year-old Kayann Lamont could have survived if it was removed from her womb up to 10 minutes after she was shot dead by a cop in St Thomas last Saturday.
"There is such a thing as a post-mortem Caesarean section," said Professor Horace Fletcher, head of the Obstetrician and Gynaecology Department at the University Hospital of the West Indies. "So if a mother dies and they can get the baby out within a short time, say about 10 minutes or so, if they cut out the baby, then the baby can survive. But it has to be done pretty quickly, within a few minutes, less than 10 minutes."
Lamont, who was said to be eight months pregnant, was shot in the head by Corporal Dwayne Smart a short distance away from the Yallahs Police Station following a tussle triggered by the cop's decision to arrest her for using indecent language.
Fletcher said because the baby was getting oxygen through the mother's blood supply, if the mother's heart was beating — though her brain may be dead — then the baby could live for quite a while inside her. But once the mother's heart stopped pumping blood, the baby needed to have been removed very quickly.
However, he said the baby stood a much better chance of survival and being healthy if removed within five minutes.
He also explained that while Lamont was shot in the head, her heart could still have been beating, which would have allowed the baby to survive inside her even longer.
He said that if the bullet entered the forebrain (the lower part of the brain), then her heart could still have been beating. However, if the bullet entered the hindbrain, which controls the heart, etc, then the heart would have stopped immediately.
"She could have been brain-dead but her heart was still beating, and if that was the case the baby could have survived for quite a while," the obstetrician said. "But once the heart stops beating, then that's it, the baby would have to come out immediately. So it would depend on where in the brain she got shot."
Fletcher explained, too, that up to 20 minutes after the mother's passing the baby could have been removed and resuscitated, even though it was not breathing. However, this could lead to brain damage.
"If the woman dies, you have up to 20 minutes to get out the baby — 20 minutes," Fletcher said. "But babies that come out so long after, you can try to resuscitate; but even if the baby comes back around they will be brain-damaged."
This is true in any kind of death, he explained.
He said babies who are seven, eight or nine months can be saved.
"At eight, nine months, maybe even seven months, if the baby is removed from the mother's belly in less than five minutes, then the baby can survive," Fletcher said. "If somebody brings in a dead woman shot by a police like 10 to 15 minutes before, you can still try, but when the baby comes out the baby might not be in such a good condition like the baby that comes out within three to five minutes."
Lamont's sister was allegedly also shot and injured by the cop while running toward her sister.
The policeman has since been removed from front-line duties and charged with murder, wounding with intent, illegal possession of a firearm, and assault.
Meanwhile, Lamont's family is seeking compensation for her death.