Three weeks ago, the Turi family was rushed to hospital suffering symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. On Monday, they buried their baby who died in the womb, 15 days before its due date.
Hussein Turi said, for eight months, his wife Hugitu had a normal pregnancy.
“She was happy, she do everything, she don’t have any problems,” he said.
“The baby played inside the stomach. No problems.”
He says that changed on Oct. 21.
At first, the family, originally from Ethiopia, thought they ate something bad. Turi went out to buy a phone card to make long distance calls back to Africa. When he got home, his family, including his wife, were collapsing.
Ambulances arrived and took them to the Misericordia hospital. It was there they learned they were suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.
“They say, ‘not food, carbon monoxide,'” Turi recalled.
Four of them, including Hugitu, had to be treated in the hospital’s hyperbaric chamber.
“They took carbon monoxide out of mother, but baby not to move inside,” Turi said.
“She become sick. We lost the baby.”
Turi said they are still waiting on results from the hospital. Doctors have not confirmed it was the carbon monoxide that caused the stillbirth, but Turi is convinced.
“We are thinking 100 per cent for that only.”
The family lives in a townhouse run by Capital Region Housing.
In October, spokesman Greg Dewling said a furnace in one of the residences – at 105 Street and 38 Avenue – was to blame for the excess carbon monoxide.
Dewling said the furnace has since been replaced and a carbon monoxide detector installed in the home. All the townhomes were scheduled to have detectors installed. The Turi family’s was scheduled to be updated next summer. Now, 75 per cent of Capital Region Housing townhomes have CO monitors.
“As a result of that incident three weeks ago, we’ve decided to accelerate our plan,” Dewling said Wednesday.
“We’re deeply saddened by this loss, obviously, for the family.”
Turi said he’s afraid to leave his family alone at home, despite the new CO detector and new furnace.
“I’m scared so much,” he said. “Who is fine? I’m not sure. I’m scared every time.”
“If you have a cough, we think about it because of this all. We are scared at night, the whole family. If something happened, we are scared.”
Alberta Health Services describes carbon monoxide as a colourless, odourless, tasteless gas that is highly poisonous. At low levels, exposure to it can cause flu-like symptoms without fever. Prolonged exposure can lead to unconsciousness and even death.
ATCO said it responds to about 3,000 CO calls in Alberta every year.
On average, Edmonton Fire Rescue Services responds to approximately 338 CO poisoning-related calls a year.
Capital Region Housing statistics:
- There are 4,500 units total
- 80% of units are townhomes
- 75% of the townhomes now have CO monitors
- Approximately 750 homes still need them installed
- A rush was put on remaining homes because of recent CO poisoning case
- All Capital Region Housing homes will have hard-wired CO detectors
Capital Region Housing spoke with the family Wednesday morning and planned to meet with them again later in the day.
The group said representatives meet with families when they move in to explain the residence, but it can be challenging when English is a second language and families are new to Canada.