Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 1 November 2014

Abortion 'could have saved Savita Halappanavar' - inquest into her death hears

Savita Halappanavar (31) died at University College Hospital Galway last October eight days after being admitted
Savita Halappanavar (31) died at University College Hospital Galway last October eight days after being admitted
Praveen Halappanavar pictured entering Galway Courthouse before the start of the inquest in to the death of his wife Savita
Praveen Halappanavar pictured entering Galway Courthouse before the start of the inquest in to the death of his wife Savita
Galway University Hospital where Savita Halappanavar died after suffering a miscarriage and septicaemia
Galway University Hospital where Savita Halappanavar died after suffering a miscarriage and septicaemia

An expert witness has said Savita Halappanavar would have survived had she received a termination on Monday, October 22 or Tuesday, October 23.

However, the legal situation in the country would have prevented this.

Dr Peter Boylan, the former Master of the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin, said he did not believe carrying out a termination on Ms Halappanavar from Wednesday onwards would have saved her life as her condition was too serious at that stage.

Dr Boylan said that while a much earlier termination would have saved her life, there was not a real and substantial risk to her life at that stage and therefore legally a termination could not be carried out.

Giving his expert opinion on the case today Dr Boylan said the real issue of the case was that legally a termination could not be carried out on the Monday or Tuesday.

"The real problem was inability to terminate the pregnancy prior to Ms Halappanavar developing a real and substantial risk to her life, by that stage it was too late to save her life," he said.

"Had Ms Halappanavar's pregnancy been terminated on Monday, October 22 or Tuesday, October 23 it is highly likely on the balance on probability that she would have survived. However, termination at that time was not a practical proposition because of the law," he said.

Dr Boylan added that while Ms Halappanavar was sick enough to justify legal terminiation in this country by Wednesday morning, he did not believe a termination at this stage would have saved her life.

Dr Boylan said that from 6.30 onwards she was seriously ill, enough to justify a termination. However, he said that any termination from 9.30am on Wednesday morning onwards was unlikely to make a difference to the outcome.

Dr Boylan also noted the lack of a statement from one midwife who cared for Ms Halappanavar  on Wednesday, October 24 stating that such a statement would been "most helpful" in the case. Dr McLaughlin told the jury the nurse in question was the only person who hadn't given a statement and would not be giving a statement.

"She has certification and there is nothing we can do about it," he added.

Dr Boylan also pointed to a number of deficiencies in the care of Savita Halappanavar  including a failure to record the initial white blood count or repeat the case. This and other failures led to a delay in treating Ms Halappanavar.

Dr Boylan said that there was a number of deficiencies in her care which on their own may not have had a serious impact but cumulatively had resulted in a delay in several hours in Ms Halappanavar's care. He revealed that each hour of delay increased the risk of mortality by 6pc.

This was later repeated by the coroner who said; "Every hour delay increases the risk by 6%. There were seven hours so the risk was increased by 42%"

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