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Husband calls for inquest into how his wife died days after giving birth

Belfast Coroner John Leckey refuses inquest in Northern Ireland

By Greg Harkin

Published 07/05/2013

Coroner John Leckey
Coroner John Leckey

A man whose wife died in hospital just days after giving birth has made an emotional plea for an inquest into her death.

Indian-born Dhara Kivlehan (29) died eight days after giving birth to her son Dior.

Speaking for the first time, her Irish husband Michael Kivlehan said that the delay was adding to his family's pain.

Dior was born on September 21, 2010, at Sligo General Hospital but Ms Kivlehan suffered complications.

She was transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast four days later, where she died on September 29.

Mr Kivlehan's request for an inquest in Northern Ireland has been refused by Belfast Coroner John Leckey, and the family has been seeking an inquest in Sligo.

Asked if he had taken a decision on the family's request, Sligo Coroner Dr Desmond Moran said: "I haven't decided yet."

Mr Kivlehan, from Dromahair, confirmed he was taking separate legal action against the Republic's HSE. This legal action is understood to centre around when medical treatment was administered to his wife.

"Dhara deserves to have an inquest," said her husband who is now raising their son.

"We have serious questions to which we would like answers. We have been waiting too long and each day that passes adds to our pain.

"We would like a decision so that we can take the next step."

His solicitor Roger Murray said: "We cannot comment in any detail on the case against the hospital and the HSE as that is now before the courts.

"In relation to an inquest, we have made numerous requests to the coroner and we hope to have a decision shortly."

It's understood Dhara's family has written to the Republic's Attorney General asking for a direction on the inquest.

Ms Kivlehan died from multiple organ failure secondary to HELLP syndrome -- a group of symptoms that occur in pregnant women who have hemolysis (the breakdown of red blood cells), elevated liver enzymes and a low platelet count.

This is a life-threatening complication usually considered to be a variant of pre-eclampsia.

The legal case against the HSE alleges delays in taking blood tests, delays in diagnosis and failing to carry out a caesarian earlier.

The family also claim Dhara should have been transferred to intensive care sooner and would be alive had various medical treatments been given sooner.

The HSE has lodged a defence to the claim for alleged negligence and alleged breach of duty in the High Court. It denies all the claims.

The couple met in London where Dhara was a fashion student. They moved to Dromahair in 2005.

A HSE spokeswoman said: "We would not be in a position to comment on any case that is before the courts."

A spokeswoman for the Northern Ireland courts service said: "The post-mortem report into Mrs Kivlehan's death concluded that she died from natural causes.

"The solicitor for her family contacted Mr Leckey in June 2011 asking him to hold an inquest. Mr Leckey replied on 20 June, 2011, to inform the solicitor that, having considered the post-mortem report, the solicitor's letter and the views of the pathologist, he considered that it was not necessary to hold an inquest."

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