Hervey Bay’s Samantha White, with her daughter Lily, believes she was unfairly treated at the Hervey Bay Hospital.
Hervey Bay’s Samantha White, with her daughter Lily, believes she was unfairly treated at the Hervey Bay Hospital. Karleila Thomsen

Hospital refused 'too heavy' mum

A 30-WEEK pregnant Samantha White was refused treatment at Hervey Bay Hospital because she was considered too heavy.

The Hervey Bay mum believes she was the victim of discrimination after being told she would not be allowed to give birth locally because her body mass index (BMI) was point-five over the hospital’s 45 limit.

Ms White believed she should have been told of the hospital’s policy when she started antenatal classes at 13 weeks, not 30 weeks into her pregnancy.

“Nobody told me; nobody mentioned my weight in any shape or form until that point. I was devastated, I was embarrassed and insulted. Hervey Bay gave me no option.”

Ms White only discovered she had been referred to Brisbane to give birth after a call by Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

Sunshine Coast-Wide Bay Health Service District Northern Cluster Manager Beth Norton said the obstetric doctor who reviewed Ms White at 29 weeks’ gestation noted her BMI was over 45 (or a weight over 135kg) and Ms White was at a higher weight than her initial presentation at Hervey Bay Hospital.

“As per Queensland Health standard practice the doctor referred her to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital to ensure the safety of both herself and her baby should she require a caesarean.”

Ms White, however, said that at the time of her referral she was only about 116kg.

The first-time mother is not disputing the policy but asks whether it is appropriate: “You shouldn’t be discriminated against for sex, race, colour or size. If a patient is considered obese when they start antenatal services, the hospital should tell them and offer a dietician service because obesity is a medical condition.

“I just felt so alone, so isolated. I felt I was unfairly treated.”

Ms White believes she was referred to Brisbane because Hervey Bay was overbooked with women delivering babies in April and May and the hospital saw her as a “risk”.

“They just thought ‘this is a potential caesarean case; we don’t want to deal with it’.”

That was despite, she said, other women of similar size having caesareans locally.

Ms Norton said there had been no influx in births at the hospital and “in Ms White’s case decisions were made on a clinical basis, with the safety of mother and child paramount”.

Ms White stands by her argument and says Maryborough’s maternity unit should be reopened to cater for the region’s growing population.

After a 22-hour labour and emergency caesarean Ms White gave birth to Lily in April.

Hervey Bay Hospital Babies 2009

Jan – 73

Feb – 75

March – 89

April – 81

May – 81

June – 90

July – 92

August – 87

Sept – 67

Oct – 89

Nov – 73

Dec – 96



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