When baby Malakai Paraone died in 2016, failed by Western Australia’s health system, promises were made to his family.
His grandmother, Julia Brown, wants to know why neither Health Minister Roger Cook nor the previous government introduced Malakai’s Rule, a system that was proposed to give worried parents more chance to be heard in the children’s hospital system.
“We were promised a lot of things, and it never came through,” Ms Brown told 9News on a video call from a remote part of New Zealand.
A similar system will now be brought in because another child, seven-year-old Aishwarya Aswath, died in similar harrowing circumstances on Easter Saturday this year.
“It brought back raw memories. It brought back memories of Malakai. So yeah, I feel for the family,” Ms Brown said.
“I know what they would have been going through.”
The tragedy of Malakai’s death unfolded across five days in 2016. On Monday, August 22, the seven-month-old became unwell and his parents took him to Midland Hospital. They went home after being told he was teething.
On Tuesday an ambulance took him to Princess Margaret Hospital after a high heart rate and vomiting but he was sent home with Panadol.
The next day, a GP diagnosed a virus and on the Thursday the parents rushed back to PMH.
Within hours their baby was in intensive care. His life support was turned off the next day.
“We pushed hard, and we went through a traumatic time trying to push for it and dealing with other things,” Ms Brown said.
Mr Cook is now promising a new rule called Aishwarya’s Care.
On Wednesday, 9News pushed the minister on why he didn’t deliver Malakai’s Rule when the Labor Party came to power in 2017.
“I raised this issue with the department and I asked them if we should have a similar system, they actually said that they had a system in place called Care Call,” he said.
“Care Call obviously did not do its job on the third of April (when Aishwarya died).”
But Care Call was never available to parents in the emergency department.
Premier Mark McGowan admitted Malakai’s Rule would have improved on the system already in place.
Malakai’s Rule would have ensured a failsafe for parents: a phone number they could call if feeling ignored in emergency, like Aishwarya’s parents were for an hour and 40 minutes before her death.
Her death is history repeating for Malakai’s family, who received an apology at the time from former health minister John Day and outrage from Mr Cook, who was then in opposition.
“I can’t understand how this family has been let down so badly,” Mr Cook said at the time, even writing to the Australian Medical Association about getting the new system implemented quickly.