Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 2 August 2014

Republic's health bosses apologise for death of new mother who was airlifted to Belfast

Tragedy: Dhara and Michael Kivlehan. The family's legal team praised the care given to Mrs Kivlehan in Belfast
Tragedy: Dhara and Michael Kivlehan. The family's legal team praised the care given to Mrs Kivlehan in Belfast

The family of an Indian woman who died in Northern Ireland a week after giving birth to her first child in the Republic has been awarded almost €1m (£850,000) in damages from health chiefs.

Dhara Kivlehan (28) died from multi-organ failure in Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital on September 28 2010.

She was airlifted from Sligo General Hospital after suffering from a variant of pre-eclampsia called Hellp (Haemolysis, Elevated Liver Enzymes and Low Platelets).

In the High Court in Dublin yesterday, the Republic's Health Service Executive apologised to widower Michael Kivlehan and the extended family for shortcomings in his late wife's management and care at Sligo, where the couple's son Dior was delivered.

While the family's legal team praised the care given to Mrs Kivlehan in Belfast, an inquest is required in the jurisdiction where death actually occurred.

The inquest into Mrs Kivlehan's death, to be held in Enniskillen has been delayed for the case.

Northern Ireland's senior coroner John Leckey intends to hold the probe next month –although doctors from the Republic are unlikely to turn up.

Family solicitor Damien Tansey revealed several medics involved in Mrs Kivlehan's care as her condition deteriorated have refused to attend a hearing in Belfast, and cannot be compelled to attend a hearing in Northern Ireland.

Now the family's legal team has threatened to go to the High Court in Dublin in a bid to have the inquest into her death held in Sligo.

"The family have now decided that they are so concerned that questions will be answered that if the Attorney General continues to refuse to direct the coroner in Sligo to hold an inquest they will judicially review that decision in the High Court," he added.

Outside Dublin's Four Courts Mr Kivlehan (34), described his late wife as a pretty, educated woman.

"(Dhara was) A young, pretty, educated women that paced herself in life, carefully, like myself and to find things just suddenly cut short, nobody can plan no matter how smart you are for that," he said.

"He's (Dior) a healthy three-year-old boy with his mammy's brains. Very smart."

The legal action was settled in front of Judge Mary Irvine.

"The HSE unreservedly apologises to the Kivlehan and Sandhu family for the short comings in relation to the management and care of Dhara Kivlehan at Sligo Regional Hospital," Adrienne Egan, a barrister for HSE told the court.

"They offer their sincere condolences to Michael Kivlehan and to his extended family in Ireland and India. The HSE confirms that lessons have been learned from the outcome in Dhara's case."

The HSE accepted liability in the case last week.

The settlement agreed before the court was for €790,000 (£650,000), which included weekly allowances for Dior and payments to Mr Kivlehan, his parents, and his wife's family in India.

An undisclosed out-of-court settlement was reached between Mr Kivlehan and the HSE.

They met in London in 2002 where Dhara was studying fashion and Michael was working. They moved to Co Leitrim and married in 2005.

BACKGROUND

Dhara Kivlehan was two weeks over her due date when she arrived at Sligo General on September 20 2010 in labour. Blood tests that afternoon showed "grossly abnormal liver function and grossly abnormal kidney function" were not followed up for 12 hours.

Her baby son was delivered by C section shortly before 6am the next morning. Mrs Kivlehan was transferred to a side room off the maternity ward.

On September 22 she was taken to intensive care then airlifted to the Royal Victoria Hospital ICU on September 24 where she died four days later.

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