Wednesday 21 August 2019

A 23-year quest by couple for answers about baby's death

Baby Jennifer Anna McGarry pictured during her time in hospital
Baby Jennifer Anna McGarry pictured during her time in hospital
Stephen and Catherina McGarry want a criminal investigation into the death of their baby, Jennifer Anna

Cathal McMahon

A couple who lost their baby in a botched birth never fulfilled their dream of having a family.

And now, 23 years after the death of their beloved little girl, Jennifer Anna, Catherina and Stephen McGarry have finally received an apology from the HSE.

Following the death of their baby, the couple, from Sallynoggin, Dublin, suffered seven miscarriages. They never had another child.

A HSE review of the case, which only concluded this year, found that Jennifer Anna suffered a spinal injury in a forceps-assisted delivery in the Coombe Hospital on November 28, 1991, which led to her death. Some of the baby's organs were also removed without her parents' knowledge.

The HSE review found Jennifer Anna should have been delivered by Caesarean section and her death most likely would have been avoided if this had happened.

The McGarrys now want a criminal investigation.

"If I did something wrong I would have to be held accountable for it. What happened to me destroyed my life," Ms McGarry said.

Her labour took longer than expected and, instead of carrying out a section, a doctor - named in the report as Registrar of Obstetrics H - delivered the baby using forceps. In his notes, he described the birth as routine, although one midwife described it as a "very difficult delivery". The doctor later moved abroad and was not available for interview for the HSE report.

Jennifer Anna was brought to the Specialist Care Baby Unit, where she died in her mother's arms on Valentine's Day, 1992. The HSE report stated: "Baby X [Jennifer Anna] should have been delivered by Caesarean section at an earlier time... this would have resulted in Baby X not being delivered by forceps...thereby most likely avoiding the injury that occurred to her spinal cord and that eventually resulted in her death."

The HSE report does not apportion blame for the death, but includes an apology from the hospital for "deficiencies" in the care provided and the failure to obtain consent for organ removal.

Irish Independent

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