'Termination would have saved Savita' - heartbroken husband
Published 15/11/2012 | 05:00
THE heartbroken husband of Savita Halappanavar has spoken of his torment at the loss of his wife and the unborn daughter she had already named.
An international storm has erupted over abortion laws here after the death of Mrs Halappanavar (31) from septicaemia a week after she began to miscarry and asked for a termination at University College Hospital in Galway.
Speaking from her hometown of Belgaum, in southwest India, her husband, Praveen (34) told the Irish Independent:
- His wife had already chosen a name – ‘Prasa’, a combination of Praveen and Savita – for the baby girl she had longed for. They learnt she had been expecting a baby girl after losing the child.
- In his last conversation with his wife in the ICU, she asked him to check her parents had arrived back in India safely, after paying a happy visit.
- He believes his wife would still be alive if a medical termination had been carried out, as she had repeatedly requested.
- How, even as her condition deteriorated, he believed she would pull through as she was "full of life".
- Their entire family are questioning how such a death could occur in 21st-Century Ireland.
- How she asked a number of times for a medical termination after a doctor found her foetus would not survive.
- How Savita's grieving mother Akkamahadevi had wanted her daughter to return to India for her pregnancy.
Mr Halappanavar, an engineer with Boston Scientific in Galway, brought Savita's remains home to her parents in India, where she was cremated.
But he plans to return to Ireland in the coming days to put pressure on the "whole system and change the law".
The devastated engineer told how he wants to ensure no other family ever has to endure their devastating loss.
Pressure continued to grow last night as more than 1,000 people staged a demonstration outside the Dail, with more gathering outside the Irish embassy in London.
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore vowed the Government would take action to provide "legal certainty and legal clarity" on abortion in the wake of the tragedy.
But the Coalition is at odds over the issue of abortion, with Labour TDs demanding legislation and Fine Gael TDs saying they would wait to see a report from an expert group.
The HSE national incident management team confirmed it would interview Mr Halappanavar as part of its review.
And staff at the hospital were interviewed yesterday as the internal investigation stepped up a gear.
It is understood one of the areas the hospital Risk Review Group will be examining is the experience of the consultant who dealt with the case.
Staffing levels at the Galway hospital's maternity unit during Mrs Halappanavar's stay, including the bank holiday weekend, were normal, according to a hospital spokesman.
Mr Halappanavar said the entire family, many of whom are medical professionals, were questioning how this death could occur in a hospital in the 21st Century in Ireland.
"We had heard Ireland was a good place to have a baby. Most of our friends there had babies there and they're all fine."
He added: "You wouldn't have thought about it. How could they leave a womb open for two days?
"The chance of infection is really high and they could have terminated. The way people think here (in India) is different; they are not able to accept the fact it is just a Catholic thing."
Savita's mother also spoke out – saying how she asked her daughter had come back to India for her pregnancy.
"We told her to come back to Belgaum for her delivery, but she felt that treatment in Ireland would be safer.
"But she's gone and I just cannot believe that she is no more with us. . . Had she come back to India, she would be living with us now."
Akkamahadevi and her husband were visiting Savita when their daughter broke the news that she had conceived.
"We were very happy. We were very eager to see our grandchild. However, tragedy struck and we are not in a position to explain our grief."
Mrs Halappanavar longed for a daughter, her brother Yalagi said. "She always wanted to have a girl so that child could be like her."
Mr Halappanavar painted a happy picture of the days before his wife was admitted.
"Everything was normal. We were told she was perfectly all right," he said.
"Savita was on top of the world. We were so excited and always talking about the baby."
Mrs Halappanavar was 17 weeks pregnant when she arrived at the hospital on October 21 complaining of back pain.
The couple were then told the baby would not survive, as her cervix was already dilating and she was miscarrying.
However, it was not until Wednesday, October 24 that the foetus was removed.
Mrs Halappanavar's condition continued to deteriorate and she died from septicaemia at 1.10am on Sunday October 28 – a week after being admitted.
Her husband told how they "kept on pushing" medics to carry out a medical abortion. However, they were told it was a Catholic country and it was against regulations.
Asked if he thought his wife would be alive if a termination had been carried out, Mr Halappanavar replied: "Yes. Of course, she was a very strong person."