Woman must live with wire in body for life, court told
A woman who has lived with a surgical wire inside her body for the past 10 years described her ordeal in the High Court yesterday.
Maureen Macken (62), from Oranmore, Co Galway, had a metallic wire erroneously left inside her body after surgery for breast cancer.
It was two years before she was even told what had happened. Now, eight years on, the former nurse said she was warned that she might die if medics made another attempt to remove the guide-wire.
The thin stainless steel guide-wire was part of a small medical device called a portacath, which was put under Ms Macken's skin during the administration of chemotherapy at the Mater Private Hospital in Dublin in November, 2000.
Ms Macken was not informed the wire was left in her chest until November 18, 2002.
She sued the Mater and consultant vascular surgeon Thomas Corrigan for negligence arising out of the procedure.
It is claimed that as a result of what happened, she suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and is on medication for life.
Ms Macken told the court that she will never be free from anxiety because the guide-wire has still not been removed.
The case is before Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill only for assessment as liability in the matter has been conceded.
It was claimed the portacath was inserted by the consultant to allow chemotherapy to be administered, but he omitted to remove the guide-wire inside it. The court heard Ms Macken had been told at the time that the wire had to be taken out immediately as it was stuck in a blood vessel.
She told the court that she was "horrified" by the ordeal. Ms Macken said she had been told it would only take a few minutes to take out because it was only a small piece of wire.
But she said she was afraid that the operation would stop her heart from beating.
"Nobody would tell me how it came to be there," she said.
When she was brought back into the Mater in 2002 to have it removed, however, the operation proved unsuccessful.
Ms Macken said she was told that it would not be possible to have the wire removed, but that it was hopefully okay and would never cause her harm.
"I was very frightened," she said. She told the court she was also warned she could die if they made another attempt to remove the guide-wire.
Ms Macken said she had battled cancer for a number of years and had coped well, but she was always fearful she might dislodge the wire.
Under cross-examination in the High Court, she said she did not recall being diagnosed with agoraphobia when she was 18 years of age, and denied she suffered from anxiety in her late teens.
The case continues.