Mother celebrating her new baby dies 3 days later of strep A in hospital

It was supposed to be the beginning of a new family together, but in the span of just three days, Ahmad Saleem’s life changed forever.One moment, he and his wife, Ayesha Riaz, became new parents, welcoming their first-born son into the world. Seventy-two hours later, he was bent over her face desperately trying in vain to revive her.

Riaz, a recent University of Toronto graduate, had just given birth to her baby, Eesa, when she fell victim to a hospital-acquired strain of streptococcus at Markham Stouffville Hospital, her family says.

The hospital would not comment specifically on her family’s claims, but confirms three cases of Group A strep in its childbirth unit in February, saying a mother did die from a severe form of the infection. But while the other two women recovered and were released, Riaz never went home. Instead, her life was cut short, leaving her son without a mother and her husband’s dreams of a life together snatched away.

“Seeing my son every single day, I want to love him, I do. I hold him and then it gets to the point that I can’t because it just haunts me,” Ahmad said.

Ahmad Saleem shares.

Eesa was born on Feb. 7. The birth went so quickly in fact that Saleem was still making his way to the hospital when it happened.

“I kissed my wife on the forehead and I joked, ‘Could you not have waited for me?'”
The joy and excitement were overwhelming. But a few hours later, Riaz started to complain. First it was pain in her tailbone, then stiffness in her stomach. The next morning she told nurses the room was getting too hot.

Each time, Saleem said, she was reassured that she would be OK, with a nurse suggesting she try taking a walk and do breathing exercises.

Over the next two days, Saleem said, Riaz had trouble breathing and developed a fever. “I laid down next to her, and she was burning hot,” he said. “No one is taking me seriously,” he remembers Riaz telling him.

On the morning of Feb. 10, Saleem said, a doctor came in after her heart rate had increased, saying something was wrong. Soon after, Riaz was moved to the intensive care unit, and the doctor said they were treating the case as Group A strep.

Around 4 p.m., Saleem said, the doctor said she feared Riaz might go into septic shock, saying she wanted to insert a tube to help her breathe.

Saleem said he held Riaz’s hand as they began putting her on life-support. Minutes after he went out of the room to inform her family, Saleem said, a nurse came running out telling him to come back in. Inside, he said, staff were performing CPR on her, and he jumped in to try when their attempts failed.