Tuesday 22 August 2017

'It is utterly devastating how much a single event can destroy a person'

Malak's sudden death destroyed husband's life

Malak Thawley pictured with her American husband Alan, who said in a letter read out by his solicitor yesterday that he had lost his ‘soul-mate’ when Malak died
Malak Thawley pictured with her American husband Alan, who said in a letter read out by his solicitor yesterday that he had lost his ‘soul-mate’ when Malak died
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The anguished husband of Malak Thawley, who died from severe loss of blood during surgery at the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street, said he has not lived a single minute of his life since she passed.

Heartbroken Alan Thawley said he is bereft since the sudden death of his "soul-mate" and the love of his life in May last year.

"It is utterly devastating how much a single event can destroy a person... there is no present moment," he said in sadness.

Mr Thawley's enduring grief was revealed after an inquest recorded a verdict of medical misadventure yesterday after hearing two days of evidence on the final tragic hours of Mrs Thawley.

The 34-year-old was living in Blackrock, Dublin, with her American husband at the time of her death.

He was in such mental distress he was unable to attend the inquest, but his moving statement was read out by his solicitor Caoimhe Haughey on the steps of the court.

Solicitor Caoimhe Haughey
Solicitor Caoimhe Haughey

Ms Thawley, who was seven weeks pregnant, was undergoing emergency surgery in Holles Street for the treatment of ectopic pregnancy on May 8, 2016.

Within minutes of the keyhole surgery starting a 4.48pm that Sunday afternoon, one of her main blood vessels was accidentally pierced by a sharp surgical instrument and the haemorrhage which would lead to her death was triggered.

But there was confusion over the cause.

The surgeon David Crosby, a senior registrar, was unclear if it was due to a rupture or a cut blood vessel. Twelve minutes into surgery, her condition was critical and her blood pressure unrecordable.

Dr Crosby had carried out five keyhole surgeries for ectopic pregnancy on his own previously.

He used a bladed surgical instrument rather than an unbladed version.

Under new guidelines, only unbladed instruments will be allowed and all keyhole surgery for ectopic surgery performed by a senior consultant.

The accident happened as the hospital operated on reduced Sunday staffing levels.

Evidence was given to the inquest that a nurse bleeped the hospital lab three times for blood before getting an answer.

A blood sample was taken from the patient more than half an hour before surgery but was not typed because it was Sunday. When Ms Thawley began haemorrhaging it took 40 minutes to type it, although she was given emergency supplies in the meantime.

The lab had no blood from 5.42pm to 6.20pm.

The obstetrician on call, Dr Declan Keane, rushed to the hospital along with St Vincent's Hospital vascular surgeon Mary Barry, who identified the source of bleeding by 5.44pm.

Questioned by Esther Earley, barrister for the Thawley family, she said her first priority was to re-establish a heartbeat.

Vascular clamps had to be obtained from St Vincent's and they were available when she needed them, she added.

Dr Keane said he believed blood units were delivered to the patient in a timely manner. He described the frantic efforts to stop the bleeding, including physically compressing the aorta, the main artery of the body.

The resuscitation efforts failed and Ms Thawley was pronounced dead four hours after what was to be low-risk surgery began.

Hospital master Dr Rhona Mahony broke the shattering news to waiting Mr Thawley and drove him home.

Irish Independent

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