Interested in home birth, hospital birth or private midwifery care? Questions or comments? Email Melissa Maimann or call 0400 418 448. A very sad story. This family is desperate to hear from anyone who might have experienced anything similar so that they can be guided with treatment.
ALEXANDER Zheng's cot is still unassembled in a Sydney apartment where he has never been.
Home, for now, is a bassinet wedged into a room in the high-dependency unit of St George Hospital, where the two-month-old's mother lies catastrophically injured.
Grace Wang's spinal canal was injected with a powerful antiseptic instead of anaesthetic, in what should have been a routine epidural to ease the pain of her first child's birth.
The devastating medical mistake - inconceivable in its magnitude - has poisoned her nervous system, leaving the 32-year-old distressed, confused, in shocking pain and unable to walk or even sit.
She has lost the strength to hold Alex, and rarely asks about her baby, as she did constantly after his birth.
The future may not bring relief, as Ms Wang's physical and psychological condition has deteriorated since the accident on June 26, and new symptoms continue to emerge.
In the first three relatively hopeful weeks, her husband, Jason Zheng, cooked for Ms Wang and fed and changed Alex, who has apparently not suffered from the drug error.
Now Ms Wang has had surgery to relieve fluid pressure on her brain, and Mr Zheng maintains a vigil beside his increasingly frightened and disoriented wife, leaving little time for his son. The longed-for baby - who followed three miscarriages - is cared for by a nurse the hospital provides. The couple have no family in Sydney, where they migrated from China.
''It's like we are ignoring that we have a son,'' said the distraught father, who will begin legal action.
... Alex snuggles close when placed alongside his mother, but breastfeeding has been impossible for fear the many medicines she is taking may affect the milk.
''Every day she's suffering and she says she wants to give up,'' Mr Zheng said. ''She was crying last night when she touched her son. I just want to change my body to hers.''
Another thing Mr Zheng wants, and which motivated his decision to speak publicly, is to make contact with anyone who has suffered similarly, in the hope their doctors may advise on Ms Wang's treatment.
Epidural administration of chlorhexidine - used to clean skin before injections and strong enough to neutralise resistant hospital bacteria - is so rare that Ms Wang's doctors have identified only one other case.
Angelique Sutcliffe, from Britain, was paralysed for life after the chemical entered her epidural in 2001. But this was just a droplet - a fraction of the eight millilitres infused into Ms Wang.
Managers at St George Hospital yesterday admitted error and pledged to support the family, but would not explain the possible source of such a fundamental mistake in a commonplace procedure: nearly 40,000 epidurals were conducted in 2006, the most recent New South Wales statistics show, in 43 per cent of all births.
The state's Minister for Health, Carmel Tebbutt, said: ''This is an extremely distressing case and I offer my sincere apologies.''
She said investigations had been ordered.