Preston mum says her daughter died after health professionals failed to spot jaundice because of the colour of her skin

A Preston mum whose baby died after doctors failed to diagnose severe jaundice is calling for greater awareness of how the condition affects black, brown and mixed race children

By Emma Downey
Friday, 13th May 2022, 4:22 pm

Jenner Akanwo, 31, says her six-month-old daughter Misha Akanwo died because several opportunities to diagnose her were missed because of her skin colour.

Jaundice in newborn babies causes yellowing of the skin which can be more difficult to see in brown or black skin.

Jenner took Misha to hospital concerned about her daughter was suffering from the condition but her fears were dismissed by a junior doctor.

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Little Misha with her mother Jenner

A heartbroken Jenner, of Yew Tree Avenue in Ribbleton, who is now urging other parents to trust their gut instinct, said: "If she had have lived another week she would have been seven months."

The mum-of-three says she repeatedly told healthcare professionals that she believed Misha was jaundiced from as young as eight weeks.

But she says her concerns fell on deaf ears.

Although Misha was slightly underweight, with her birth weighing 4" 2lb, she was later deemed to be 'healthy and thriving' by midwives and health visitors.

Misha Akanwo from Preston was only six month's old when she died from liver failure caused by severe jaundice

"The health visitor came to my house and I raised my concerns and she said "so what are we thinking is she jaundiced?" and took her to the window to check her colouring and said it was fine.

"A couple of weeks later she came again but because Misha was sleeping so she didn't want to disturb her."

"If you go to your GP with your baby for your eight week check up and raise a concern and you are ignored then you don't want to be seen as an over anxious mum.

"I was also told she was a lovely colour - how can you be a lovely colour with jaundice?"

Six month old Misha Akanwo died last May after several health officials failed to spot jaundice which later caused liver failure

"If it is hard to tell with children of colour this to me should surely mean they should be more cautious?

"There needs to be more awareness of the condition."

Jenner took Misha to accident and emergency in February last year but was told she didn’t display any jaundice symptoms.

However, she returned the following day after a chance encounter with an off-duty nurse who spotted yellowing in Misha’s eyes.

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A paediatric consultant then immediately noticed Misha was in fact significantly jaundiced.

She was transferred to Leeds General Hospital and diagnosed with biliary atresia - a disease which begins in utero whereby one of the bile ducts is blocked and scarred leading to liver failure.

Misha was placed on the transplant list for a donor liver but died on May 28 before a match could be found.

"A lot of wrong has been done to her,” said Jenner.

Jenner believes her daughter would still be alive had the warning signs been spotted sooner.

Following Misha's death, the colour stool chart has been introduced across Lancashire and South Cumbria by HCRG Care Group - which supplies health visitors to NHS trusts.

Joanne Goss, matron in midwifery at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "In babies with a different skin tone healthcare professionals take care to examine the whites of a child's eyes and the colour of their poo which are also both affected by jaundice."

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust were approached for comment.,