Ryker Daponte-Michaud’s pediatrician hadn’t seen the toddler for two months at the time of the child’s death, and he never saw him in the days following the horrible scalding that led to his death.
If he had seen the terrible third-degree burns that covered close to a quarter of his body, Kunwar Singh testified he would have acted immediately.
“I would have admitted him to hospital, put him on intravenous, ordered a bone scan test for physical abuse and informed the Children’s Aid Society,” said the veteran Sarnia doctor who has been treating children for 45 years.
Singh was testifying at the trial of Amanda Dumont, 30, and Scott Bakker, 27, the Strathroy couple charged with criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessaries of life in the death of Dumont’s youngest child, who died at least three days after he was scalded with a cup of coffee.
Singh had been seeing the little boy since he was two weeks old and had monitored his development even though Dumont didn’t always keep up with all the baby’s appointments. After seeing Ryker six times between September and December 2012, he saw the child just twice in 2013 — he wanted to see him at least 10 times — and twice more in 2014.
At the last visit, two months before his death, the baby had a bad cold and was sent for chest X-rays. He was treated for pneumonia.
Singh was shown a photo of Ryker’s injuries. “I’ve seen burn injuries, not to that extent,” he said.
Those horrible burns, the jury heard, set off the deadly changes inside little Ryker’s body. The medical explanations didn’t take away from how painful and preventable his death was on May 21, 2014.
Michael Shkrum, the pathologist who performed the autopsy, told the jury Ryker died of dehydration and ketoacidosis due to thermal burns.
Shkrum said the burns to Ryker’s back, belly, genitals, buttocks and legs, were “deep, deep burns,” meaning the skin was destroyed all the way down to the fatty layer and appeared leathery at the time of autopsy.
The stress response to the injury would set off changes in the body, altering the metabolism of glucose, protein and fat, making the blood highly acidic and altering the body’s cells so they don’t function properly, leading to death.
Ryker also was dehydrated from the body’s changes, which Shkrum said was obvious from his sunken eyes and fluid loss in his skin.
His body weight at death was 20.5 pounds, putting him in the fifth percentile for a child his age.
In comparison, when Singh saw Ryker in January, five months before his death, he weighed 25 pounds, eight ounces.
The trial continues Monday with more testimony from Shkrum.