Newborn dies after doctors told mother to ‘take her home and give her Calpol’

Lois felt like the staff at Barnet General Hospital ‘did not know what they were doing’ with Noa (Collect/PA Real Life)
Lois felt like the staff at Barnet General Hospital ‘did not know what they were doing’ with Noa (Collect/PA Real Life)

A mum whose daughter died in her father’s arms at 10 weeks old after she was told by doctors to “give her Calpol and take her home” has since had a rainbow baby and become a life coach to help others through challenging times – and now feels her late daughter was “here for a reason”.

Lois Goodman, 42, who lives in Edgware, London with her husband Daniel, 44, and their three other children, Ayton, two, Bella, eight, and Lior, 11, gave birth to Noa in September 2016, but, her baby started turning blue and was struggling to breathe.

After spending five weeks in several hospitals, including in critical care wards, Noa was diagnosed with brain damage and sent home.

Five weeks later, Noa got a temperature and during a check-up at Barnet General Hospital doctors told Lois to give her baby Calpol and take her home – but Noa died just two days later.

Lois said she screamed when she saw her daughter cradled in her husband’s arms and remembers her eldest son, Lior, who was four at the time, trying to reassure her by saying, “Mummy, I’m Superman I can save her”.

Lois and her husband had therapy to come to terms with the grief of losing their daughter, but Lois wanted to take her own action so trained to become a life coach and started a podcast to help others through troubling times.

“Maybe my daughter was here for a reason, and it wasn’t supposed to be for long – I wouldn’t be who I am today without her,” Lois said.

“I felt let down by the NHS for a really long time. But, I also recognise that everything happens for a reason, and everyone is where they’re supposed to be at the perfect time.”

Lois went to University College London Hospital with Daniel for her planned C-section delivery of Noa on September 1 2016 but said she felt like something was not right.

“It was my third child at the time, and I had already had two C-sections, but I just felt, since my third trimester, that something was a bit wrong but I didn’t know what, and no one had picked anything up on the scans or anything,” she said.

 (PA Real Life)
(PA Real Life)

When Noa was born things soon took a turn for the worst.

Lois explained: “When Noa was delivered, she had this funny cry and then there was a bit of concern.

“They (the doctors) checked her over but they gave her to us, and then when we went up to the recovery room she wasn’t latching on.

“She wasn’t really breathing and she was turning a bit blue and one of the midwives noticed and they took her straight to the neonatal unit.”

Despite having an inkling that something was wrong, Lois was taken aback when seeing her daughter’s health deteriorate.

She said: “It was just a really, really big shock. I wasn’t expecting her to be in critical care, and I’ve had two healthy children prior. So it was just a massive shock.”

The doctors at University College London Hospital did a brain scan on Noa and did not think anything was wrong, but to be safe, after 11 days in their care, she was transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital.

There, to Lois and her family’s shock, it was revealed their daughter had brain damage.

“The specialists checked the brain scan and found that there was some very, very small damage to the movement part of her brain.

They didn't really know what they were doing, the staff were very sweet but they had no idea how to deal with her

Lois Goodman

“The movement part controlled her suck-and-swallow reflex and the breathing.

“They actually had no idea what was wrong, but she had a very fast breathing rate too.

“So she had a feeding tube and was just having constant tests and we eventually found out this was all being caused by brain damage.”

Noa was then transferred to Barnet General Hospital, where she would stay for three weeks.

She said: “They didn’t really know what they were doing, the staff were very sweet but they had no idea how to deal with her.

“We wanted her to stay at Great Ormond Street, but she couldn’t.”

Noa was discharged and brought home, which Lois said was a “very stressful, tough time”.

After five weeks of being at home, at 10 weeks old, Noa had a high temperature at around 40 degrees, so Lois took her back to Barnet General Hospital but was unsatisfied with their level of care.

She said: “I took her back in, and they checked her over, but they didn’t really check her properly.

“They didn’t give her a chest X-ray, and this is the hospital that she lived in for like three weeks. All her notes were there.

They were like, give her Calpol, take her home, and bring her back if things worsen

Lois Goodman

“They were like, give her Calpol, take her home, and bring her back if things worsen.

“They sent us home, and it was very blase.”

After coming home, Lois was “half-relieved, and half knew something was really bad”, but Noa’s condition worsened.

On November 13, Lois felt exhausted so she and Daniel agreed to take Noa back to hospital the following morning but she died that evening in her father’s arms.

Lois said: “I was preparing to take her in the morning and my husband just sat on the couch, giving her her last feed.

“While I was getting ready, he called me saying the milk had stopped going down, and as soon as I walked in that room, she was dead.

“I saw that she was gone, I just knew.

“I just saw her eyes wide open, I could see she was not breathing, and I screamed.”

Daniel began performing CPR while Lois called an ambulance which took Noa to A&E, where she was pronounced dead.

Lois still remembers four-year-old Loir trying to reassure her.

She recalled: “I just remember my oldest son saying to me, ‘Mummy, I’m Superman I can save her,’ but I knew that she was gone, and I couldn’t save her, as her mother, and that just killed me.”

After Noa’s death, the couple started therapy to help with the bereavement.

Lois said: “It really helped us up until a certain point.

“I knew I had to move forward. I can’t stay here. I can’t stay stuck. I’m always going to be grieving my daughter. I always miss her but I need to move forward.”

I realised I’m just going to do what's good for me and my family, and try to make the most of life

Lois Goodman

In 2020, after having Ayton, their rainbow baby – a term used for a child born after a pregnancy loss or baby’s death – Lois enrolled on a life coaching course, which completely shifted her perspective.

Now as a certified life coach she hosts a podcast called Shit To Sunshine to help others with grief and life’s struggles.

She thinks their bereavement has changed her perspective on the world, saying: “Losing Noa made me realise what’s important.

“I was in this bubble for a while of not wanting to engage with the world, and when I came out of it, I started to feel that I don’t really care what other people think.

“I realised I’m just going to do what’s good for me and my family, and try to make the most of life.”

While the NHS did not confirm Noa’s death was caused by medical negligence, Lois’s solicitors claimed Barnet General Hospital were in breach of duty.

A spokesperson for the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, which manages Barnet General Hospital, said: “We would like to take this opportunity to apologise again for Mrs Goodman’s poor experience, which was investigated through our formal complaints process.

“After Noa’s death we conducted a full and thorough investigation and whilst no care or service delivery issues were found we recognise that our communications with Noa’s family could have been clearer and more timely.

“As a result, we have made important improvements in this area.”