Alberta man wants answers after wife dies giving birth in hospital

Last Tuesday was supposed to be a memorable day for Belal Hossain. His wife, Farzana Nasrin, 37, was going into labour at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre in Fort McMurray, Alta., about to give birth to the couple’s third child.

1st death of its kind in Fort McMurray in 25 years now under review by AHS

Belal Hossain is now caring for two young sons without his wife, Farzana Nasrin, who died following the recent birth of their third son, in Northern Lights Regional Health Centre in Fort McMurray. Alberta Health Services says such deaths are 'extremely rare.' (Belal Hossain)

Last Tuesday was supposed to be a memorable day for Belal Hossain.

His wife, Farzana Nasrin, 37, was going into labour at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre in Fort McMurray, Alta., about to give birth to the couple's third child.

Their other boys, ages 6 and 2, couldn't wait to meet the new baby.

But things went horribly and tragically wrong. Shortly after giving birth to a boy, Farzana Nasrin died.

"Oh, it's like a whole sky falling down on me, I was trembling outside in the room and was like 'I'm dead, I'm gone,'" said Hossain, still clearly in shock as he spoke to CBC News on the phone from Fort McMurray.

Hossain had gone to pick up his two other boys from school while his wife went into labour. Things seemed to be going fine when he returned with the boys.

But with a toddler more interested in playing than sitting in a hospital room, Hossain entertained his kids in another room of the hospital.

He said his wife had visited her doctor and the hospital in the days leading up to the birth for what they thought were labour pains.

She had two natural births previously, and there were no other signs anything unusual was developing this time. Up to the point she gave birth to the new baby boy, her 44-year-old husband said he was told everything was normal.

'We ran to the 2nd floor'

Hossain said he was discouraged from going back into the room as it was being cleaned, he recalled.

He decided to make a quick trip to get doughnuts for his children and others to share. He was parking his car in the hospital parking lot when his phone rang. It was the hospital, which told him there was a problem.

"We ran to the second floor and the doctor said she is bleeding," said Hossain, who hadn't yet spoken to his wife since the birth.

He would never get the chance.

Things happened quickly after the initial warning about internal bleeding.

Hossain said he was told the bleeding was heavy. His wife was transferred to the intensive care unit.

"And then five minutes later, they come and they say she's gone," he said.

'How could this happen?'

He still doesn't know what happened, but wonders if the doctors reacted quickly enough to stop the bleeding. Along with the grief and loss, he's feeling emotions such as anger and confusion..

"How could this happen?" he asked.

A spokesperson for Alberta Health Services, which runs the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre, described such cases as "extremely rare." In fact, the death is the first of its kind at the hospital in 25 years.

AHS released a statement to CBC News confirming an internal review is underway to "determine details of the care provided to this patient."

AHS promises to act on any recommendations from the internal review that could help improve care in the future.

'I'm crying all the time'

In the meantime, Hossain tells his boys their mother is now with "God and Allah."

And he hasn't yet been able to see his new baby boy, who was taken to intensive care at a hospital in Edmonton, where on Thursday he was still being assessed and monitored.

Hossain said he believes the umbilical cord got tangled around the baby's neck.

But now he's hundreds of kilometres away from his new baby, while trying to plan his wife's unexpected funeral, and looking after his two sons, who are desperately missing their mother.

"Every moment I feel, 'How will I survive?' " he said, adding the only word he can really find to describe the pain he's feeling is "unimaginable."

He and his wife had been buying baby clothes and equipment for the new baby. They both wanted to name him Rayaan. 

"When I see the crib, baby car seat and I see her dress, everywhere I go I'm crying all the time and I have two boys with me, so I can't cry, because I have them," he said.

While he has no immediate family to help him through the ordeal, Hossain is grateful he and his wife's friends are rallying around to help him.

He expects the funeral to take place within the next couple of days.

AHS says it will share the results of its review with the family when it is completed.

Between now and then, AHS told CBC in its statement it has talked to the family about the circumstances of the case, and will continue to be available to them to answer any questions.