Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Savita Halappanavar's widower Praveen 'forgives nurse'

Praveen Halappanavar, the husband of Savita Halappanavar, arrives for the inquest into her death at Galway Coroners Court
Praveen Halappanavar, the husband of Savita Halappanavar, arrives for the inquest into her death at Galway Coroners Court
Savita Halappanavar
Savita Halappanavar

The widower of an Indian woman has forgiven a midwife who told his wife she could not terminate her baby while she miscarried because Ireland was a Catholic country.

Praveen Halappanavar  thanked the senior nurse for her honesty at the inquest into the death of his wife Savita, who died four days after she miscarried from septicemia due to E-coli.

As Mr Halappanavar arrived for day four of the inquiry, he was asked if he forgives and understands the comments by Ann Maria Burke.

"Oh yes I do," the 34-year-old engineer said. "And I would like to thank her for being so honest. I think it came out of the blue. Yes."

The midwife manager has already apologised for using the words "it's a Catholic country" as she had a conversation with the 31-year-old patient in her care. But she insists she said it in kindness and was explaining the law of the land and the differences between India and Ireland, and was not being insensitive.

"I'm sorry that I said it," she added.

Mr Halappanavar said he still "sticks to" his allegation that his wife's consultant obstetrician, Dr Katherine Astbury, made the same comment.

The senior medic has denied the claim, insisting she refused a termination the day before the miscarriage because there was no risk to her life. Mr Halappanavar said it has been very difficult sitting through the testimonies of medics, including Dr Astbury who has admitted there were system failures in her care.

As the hearing opened, a barrister defended information being added to Mrs Halappanavar's medical notes after her death.

Declan Buckley, senior counsel for the hospital, its staff and the Health Service Executive, confirmed eight retrospective entries had been put in by nursing staff, who were asked to write what they remembered in the context of the tragedy. Galway coroner Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin raised concerns over the notes, some put there up to two weeks after death, and stressed he had never seen so many retrospective entries.

"It was never any intention to mislead anyone," Mr Buckley added.

factfile

Savita Halappanavar (31) was admitted to hospital in Galway on Sunday, October 21 and delivered a dead baby daughter on Wednesday, October 24. Her husband said his wife was refused a termination because Ireland was a Catholic country. She died on the Sunday.

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