Belfast Telegraph

Senior doctor in Dhara Kivlehan death inquest apologises

By Ed Carty

A senior doctor has apologised over a heated conversation he had with the husband of a new mother as her condition deteriorated following an emergency Caesarean section.

Dhara Kivlehan (29), originally from India, died in Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital on September 28, 2010 after being airlifted from Sligo hospital where she had given birth to a baby boy a week earlier and had suffered from a severe strain of pre-eclampsia.

At the inquest into her death, Dr Seamus Crowley, consultant anaesthetist in Sligo, said her ethnicity had no bearing on his assessments of jaundice and liver and kidney dysfunction.

"All I can remember is, I acknowledged to Michael that his wife was from India and her darker complexion would make jaundice more difficult to assess than someone of a paler complexion," Dr Crowley said.

"Unfortunately, it was quite an emotive conversation."

Widower Michael Kivlehan claimed at the opening of the inquest in Carrick-on-Shannon last Monday that Dr Crowley told him it was difficult to tell if his wife was jaundiced from her appearance because she was Indian.

Dr Crowley said his clinical diagnoses of liver issues were based on objective blood tests, not subjective assessments of skin colour and complexion.

The fourth day of the inquest heard there was a 96-hour delay in getting a kidney specialist to assess Mrs Kivlehan and questions over why she was not treated in intensive care immediately after the C-section.

A jury of five men and two women are hearing several days of evidence on how his wife died.

Mr Kivlehan and his son were awarded almost one million euro (£780,000) last year after the Health Service Executive (HSE) apologised for shortcomings in her care.

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