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Trust failed us, say relatives of gran who died during lung op

By Angela Rainey

Published 18/06/2016

Relatives of a grandmother who died after a surgeon accidentally cut her artery have told an inquest they were
Relatives of a grandmother who died after a surgeon accidentally cut her artery have told an inquest they were "failed" by the Belfast Health Trust. File photo

Relatives of a grandmother who died after a surgeon accidentally cut her artery have told an inquest they were "failed" by the Belfast Health Trust.

Suzanne Nicol, whose mother Annamay passed away after being admitted to the Royal Victoria Hospital in January 2015, said "issues had been skirted around" and the family had been given "little closure".

The inquest at the city's Laganside Courts Complex was told that mother-of-four and grandmother-of-eight Mrs Nicol, from Coleraine, went into hospital to have a cancerous tumour removed from her lung.

The 76-year-old required an operation called a keyhole lobectomy, a complicated procedure, but one that consultant thoracic surgeon Kieran McManus and his team had carried out more than 200 times.

Mrs Nicol was told that if she had the operation, she had an 80% chance of survival. If she opted for radiotherapy, she had a 20% chance.

Complicating matters was the fact that the grandmother had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and was recovering from a hip replacement.

To ensure she was fit to undergo surgery, a number of lung function tests were carried out, including one in which her ability to walk up four flights of stairs was measured.

Mr McManus told the inquest that while in theatre, Mrs Nicol was initially stable, but then began to bleed and "for some reason her body did not tolerate the bleeding".

He and his team tried to stop the haemorrhaging, but their patient went into cardiac arrest.

Despite extensive efforts from a number of doctors, including a cardiac consultant, to resuscitate her, she could not be saved.

Among the witnesses at the inquest alongside Mr McManus were colleagues Aoibhan Hutchinson and Harry Parissis, who attempted to save Mrs Nicol's life. All offered their condolences to the family while giving evidence, and in person once the hearing had ended.

But Mrs Nicol's daughter Suzanne said the inquest had given the family no comfort and added that they had never received a formal apology.

She said: "I feel the trust has failed us and my mother in many ways," she explained.

"We met with the trust in July and it was like they couldn't be bothered. One even took notes on the back of a brown envelope and we were given documents to read just as we went in. I wouldn't say we are angry - we are past anger now.

A spokeswoman for the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust offered their sympathies to the pensioner's family.

"Belfast Trust would like to pass on sincere condolences to the family of Annamay Nicol, however, due to patient-client confidentiality, we are unable to discuss any aspect of her treatment or care," she said.

The inquest ruled the death was accidental.

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