Tuesday 23 May 2017

Family ask hospital staff to give statements on tragic death of Malak Thawley

Holles Street Hospital (Inset: Malak Kuzbary Thawley and her husband Alan)
Holles Street Hospital (Inset: Malak Kuzbary Thawley and her husband Alan)
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Lawyers for the family of a pregnant woman who died while undergoing surgery have asked that 18 doctors, nurses and staff give statements to an inquest into her death.

The request was made today at a preliminary hearing in the Coroner's Court into the case of Malak Thawley (35) who died in May after one of her main blood vessels was accidentally injured during surgery for ectopic pregnancy.

Malak Thawley with her American husband Alan. The couple had been living in Ireland for three years when she died
Malak Thawley with her American husband Alan. The couple had been living in Ireland for three years when she died

It is a matter for the coroner to decide how many of these staff will then be asked to make formal depositions.

A request for statements is also to be made to hospital staff in the Mater and St James's Hospitals who were contacted as part of the emergency response to save Ms Thawley's life.

Senior counsel Liam Reidy and solicitor Caoimhe Haughey who represented the Thawley family at Monday's short hearing said eight depositions have been submitted to the inquest already.

Ms Thawley's husband Alan who has previously spoken of his heartbreak at her death is abroad.

The case was put back until January and full hearing is due to take place in February.

Speaking after the hearing Ms Haughey said it is a matter for the coroner what witnesses to call.

"This is a public  inquiry and the coroner has a duty to keep it public and keep it in the public interest," she said.

An internal hospital report said Ms Thawley was undergoing a simple  keyhole operation to remove her ectopic pregnancy died after one of her main blood vessels was accidentally injured by a sharp-pointed instrument used to create an opening early on in the surgery.

But it was not recognised for several minutes and, even when the accident was discovered, it took another 15 minutes before she received emergency treatment, according to an investigation report.

Her husband Alan, who earlier was told the surgery to remove the ectopic pregnancy on the Sunday afternoon would only take 45 minutes, never saw her alive again.

He has spoken of his heartbreak and how bereft he feels at the loss of his “beautiful wife, my best friend.”

The couple were living in Ireland where Mr Thawley, an American was working. Ms Thawley, a teacher, was a native of Syria.

The report of an internal hospital investigation into the case said the cut to a blood vessel was a rare event, which nobody on the surgical team had seen before. It led to Ms Thawley suffering major loss of blood.

It pointed out that if a procedure, known as a laparotomy to stop the bleeding was done earlier, along with blood transfusion, the tragic outcome of Ms Thawley could have been altered.

Doctors from Holles St and St Vincent’s Hospitals were present at the operating theatre while frantic attempts were made to save Ms Thawley who was due to undergo a simple procedure to remove an ectoptic pregnancy.

Ms Haughey has been told that a cardiac surgeon with St Vincent’s hospital who was at St James’s Hospital on that day was called to assist. It has also emerged that a phone call was made to medical staff in the Mater Hospital about the use of  ECMO - extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.

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