Alberta's former chief medical officer took the stand for the defence in the trial of two parents accused of not providing the necessaries of life in the death of their toddler, saying she does not believe he actually died from bacterial meningitis.
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Dr. Anny Sauvageau presented an 18-page report that outlines her disagreements with the cause-of-death findings of Dr. Bamidele Adeagbo, which said Ezekiel Stephan died of bacterial meningitis.
Sauvageau said she believes the toddler in fact died of viral meningitis, rather than the bacterial form, but acknowledged that neither she nor Adeagbo are microbiologists.
The former chief medical examiner also suggested Ezekiel might have lived had the first ambulance to Cardston been better equipped to treat a child his age with breathing difficulties. She called it a "medical or paramedical misadventure."
Sauvageau is suing Alberta Justice for wrongful dismissal. She alleges her position was not renewed after she stood up to political pressure to change a contract for transporting bodies for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Alberta. Her allegations have not been proven in court.
Given her civil action against the province, Crown counsel questioned whether the doctor could be relied on for impartial testimony. It was also noted that she is being paid $500 per hour by the defence.
Sauvageau said her lawsuit is not relevant and promised to be neutral.
The trial has already heard from a naturopath who said that Ezekiel's parents, Collet and David, thought their son had viral meningitis and asked for an immune booster to treat the illness.
Source of analysis
Sauvageau's analysis of Ezekiel's condition comes from reading Adeagbo's report and listening to the 911 call made by Ezekiel's parents after the boy had stopped breathing.
During the call Ezekiel started breathing again and David put the phone to the toddler's mouth.
"I can hear the breathing of the baby that is not a normal breathing ... as an expert on asphyxia. .. [it was] an obstructed phenomenon," said Sauvageau.
Adeagbo sat in the front row of the Lethbridge courtroom, which was packed with supporters of the Stephans, taking notes. He will have a chance to present a rebuttal to the jury in the coming days.
The Crown is expected to cross examine Sauvageau on Wednesday.
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