Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Savita Halappanavar's husband breaks down reliving her last moments at inquest

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

The husband of Savita Halappanavar broke down in tears today during an inquest into her death.

Praveen Halappanavar explained how his wife asked twice for a termination as she lay in hospital in excruciating pain.

His evidence was halted at midday after he broke down crying in the dock. He was 45 minutes into his statement when this happened.

Savita, (31), died at University College Hospital Galway last October eight days after being admitted. She was 17 weeks' pregnant.

Court No3 at Galway Courthouse was packed to capacity today for the hearing before Coroner Ciaran McLoughlin and a jury of six men and four women.

Coroner Dr McLoughlin adjourned the court session to give Mr Halappanavar time to recover.

The grieving widower began weeping as he recalled the last time he spoke to Savita - on the Wednesday around 7.30pm.

Savita had sought assurance that her parents had arrived home safely in India.

"That was the last time we spoke," said Praveen

Earlier, Praveen, told the inquest about how he and Savita had been sent home from the hospital on Sunday October 21, but returned a couple of hours later as Savita was in severe pain.

He was later told that the baby was miscarrying.

"Savita was crying loudly," said Praveen.

He said a doctor told him, 'You have to be brave; he said the baby won’t arrive.'

"Both of us were shattered – we didn’t know what to do," said Praveen.

He said Savita said to him 'Why did this happen to me? She held my hand and said, ‘Sorry, I want to be a good wife’."

 Praveen said he and his wife were in 'terrible mental pain and shock.' They had taken a decision to tell close friends about the loss of their baby but not her parents who were in Galway and were planning to return to India on flights booked three months earlier.

"Savita asked for a termination two times. Savita was in tears. She said she could not take it. The doctor did not come back that day."

"Savita asked a doctor when she could plan the next pregnancy. She was told she had to get well first."

"She wanted a termination; she wanted it before her parents arrived back in India and started telling people she was pregnant."

Praveen said Savita had then asked a Dr Asperey on Tuesday  for the termination.

"He said 'This is a Catholic country - we cannot terminate because the foetus is still alive'."

Praveen said that Savita told the doctor that she is a Hindu and was not an Irish citizen.

He said there was a midwife and two other doctors there. Dr Asperey had not returned.

At midnight on the Tuesday Savita was shivering and shaking. The heater was not on.

The nurse said her blood pressure was fluctuating and her temperature was slightly high

Before entering the inquest Praveen spoke of his hopes of finding “the truth” behind his wife’s death as an inquest began, saying: “She is here with me today.”

Mr Halappanaver, (32), arrived at court just after 10.15am.

“We have been waiting for this,” said Praveen.

“All we want to do is get to the bottom of the truth so we are looking forward to this.

“I feel her (Savita’s) presence here; she has always been there.”

The grieving husband said Savita was watching down over him.

“I get my strength from her. The last few days have been very rough. I know the baby was due on March 30th.

“The last few days have been rough since the (HSE draft) report was handed over to me.

“I have to be very strong.”

He said he had faith in the inquest, adding: “The big question is why was Savita treated in a way that she was not supposed to be.”

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