Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Dying Savita planned family future

Savita Halappanavar died from suspected septicaemia
Savita Halappanavar died from suspected septicaemia

Even as Savita Halappanavar's life began to slip away she was planning a future with a family.

The 31-year-old dentist had been left shattered when told she was miscarrying a baby she longed for.

In the depths of despair she turned to her husband Praveen and pleaded: "How can a mother wait for her baby to die?"

She knew in her heart it was going to be a girl and had named her Prasa - a symbolism of unity with both their names used to remember her.

Only weeks before, Mrs Halappanavar wept tears of joy at a first scan that confirmed the couple - married five years ago today - were starting a family.

Despite her pain and heartbreak over an inevitable miscarriage, and the onset of sepsis, she still planned to be pregnant again before the due date of her dying baby - less than three weeks ago tomorrow.

Mr Halappanavar revealed that his wife had been at the heart of the Indian community in Galway, socialising with friends and organising events.

Since appearing in the Diwali Festival in the city in 2010, where she won the best dance prize, she had started to teach dance to local Indian youngsters.

The festival of light was cancelled last year when she died, her husband said.

She also entranced Indian and Irish alike with her dancing at a St Patrick's Day Parade in the city.

The couple had been friends in the state of Karnataka, south-west India, before Mr Halappanavar moved to Galway in 2006 for a job as a scientific engineer at the medical devices company Boston Scientific.

Each time he returned home their relationship grew stronger and in 2008 they wed in a Hindu ceremony.

Mrs Halappanavar, the only daughter and the youngest of three children, returned to Ireland with her husband within months and spoke to her parents in Belgaum every day on Skype.

The young, ambitious couple travelled around Ireland during their spare time and Mrs Halappanavar loved the peace away from the hustle and bustle of India.

They went further afield in Europe, exploring Paris, Venice, Rome and Santorini in Greece - each trip to mark a wedding anniversary.

Five years on to the day Mr Halappanavar was alone and awaiting a verdict at his wife's inquest. A small group of friends sat nearby for support.

Mrs Halappanavar qualified as a dentist in India at the KLE Dental College in Belgaum. To work in Ireland she first had to spend time observing how dentistry was practised and then sit exams which she passed in 2012.

Around the same time the couple moved to a bigger home in the Roscam area of Galway so friends could visit, and they planned to start a family.

They were like any other young couple expecting their first baby, full of the joys and all the normal questions.

They telephoned friends for advice and went to see a GP.

Mr Halappanavar, from Haveri in north Karnataka, said his wife was in "excellent health" despite suffering from chronic back pain which manifested when she stood for long periods.

It had stopped her from working for four months.

She did athletics and yoga and a physiotherapist recommended a gym ball to ease her pain.

Her husband remembered her tears of happiness on the day they first saw their baby girl on the monitor during a hospital scan.

When Mrs Halappanavar's parents, Andaneppa and Mahadevi Yalagi, visited for a three-month holiday, they held a baby shower in the Hindu tradition.

Both Mrs Halappanavar and her mother were dressed in new clothes.

They all said prayers together.

They were still in Ireland when she was admitted to Galway University Hospital on Sunday October 21, and she put on a brave face when they visited in order to protect them.

They left Ireland two days later, unaware that their daughter was miscarrying or on the brink of contracting a deadly infection.

Even in high dependency, as her body battled severe sepsis, the loving daughter still had her parents in mind, asking if they got home safely.

"That's the last word I had with Savita," said Mr Halappanavar, who remained by his wife's side until she died.

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