Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Widower 'grateful until dying day'

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

The widower of an Indian woman who died after a miscarriage will be grateful until his dying day for the valiant efforts of intensive care staff who tried to save her, an Irish inquest has heard.

Praveen Halappanavar bowed head in his hands and rubbed his eyes as he relived how nursing staff battled during Savita's final hours as her organs failed.

The 31-year-old dentist died in University Hospital Galway, in the early hours of Sunday October 28, five days after she was refused a termination by her obestrician Dr Katherine Astbury.

ICU nurse Jacinta Gately said at around 12.45am medics sat by her bed noticed a chaotic heart rhythm on a monitor and checked Mrs Halappanavar's pulses.

"Within minutes of commencing CPR, I went out to Mr Halappanavar to let him know what was happening, that his wife's heart had stopped and that we had started CPR. I asked him if he wanted to be present while this was going on and he replied that he did. I explained that it would be very difficult for him. A friend accompanied him for support."

Ms Gately said doctors and nurses worked on Mrs Halappanavar for at least 20 minutes, but stopped when there was no response. Dr Quinn informed Mr Halappanavar that his wife was unresponsive to their efforts and that she had passed away.

Mr Halapannavar thanked staff who battled to keep his wife alive for three-and-a-half days after she contracted severe sepsis the day she miscarried a dead baby.

"He will be, to his dying day, grateful for the valiant efforts of you and your colleagues," barrister Eugene Gleeson told John Bates, consultant anaesthetist in intensive care.

Coroner Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin questioned why there was a three hour delay in blood tests being taken from Mrs Halappanavar on the Wednesday morning concerns about sepsis were raised and making it to a lab.

Records show the sample was taken at 7am and received in the laboratory at 10.12am, where it took at least seven hours to reveal a low white cell count, a sign of the infection. "That would be a concern," the coroner said. But consultant microbiologist Dr Deirbhile Keady argued the timescale made no difference to Mrs Halappanavar's treatment, care and outcome.

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