Sunday 18 February 2018

Family gets €1m over failure to spot cancer that killed mother

Melissa Hamilton with her husband Seamus
Melissa Hamilton with her husband Seamus
Sarah Stack

Sarah Stack

A hospital has apologised to the husband and three young children of Melissa Hamilton, who died of breast cancer despite two missed opportunities to diagnose it.

The family yesterday settled an action for damages for €1.35m, including €900,000 to be handed over for the future care of the three young girls.

Outside the High Court, widower Seamus Hamilton said if only the cancer had been found sooner his wife would be alive.

"My family has been torn apart. Every Christmas, every birthday and every special occasion will forever be tainted by this loss," he said.


His children have to grow up without a mother and "I will have to spend the rest of my life without my wife".

"An integral and monumental part of my children's life has been taken from them," he said.

"All the children, except my eldest, Jessica, will have no memory of their mother and because Jessica remembers, she is tortured for life with the fear of losing everyone around her.

"My children are going to grow up motherless and, worst of all, they will eventually know that their mother's death could have been prevented".

The apology from Letterkenny General Hospital was read to the court as part of the settlement of the case over the wrongful death of the 34-year-old Donegal mother, who died of breast cancer just eight days after her third child was born.

Sean Murphy, the general manager of Letterkenny General, said in a letter he wished to "apologise unreservedly" that Ms Hamilton's cancer was not diagnosed and treated sooner.

Ms Hamilton died just a fortnight after the diagnosis was eventually made.

The letter also said: "I realise no words can make up for the loss that you and your children have experienced and our thoughts are with you all in these difficult times."

Mr Hamilton launched an action for damages as a result of the wrongful death of his wife.

The widower, from Sallywood, Killgordon, Co Donegal, along with his three children, Jessica (10), Darcey (6) and baby Gracie, sued the HSE and GP Eileen Coyne, with an address at Health Centre, Stranorlar, Donegal.


It was claimed the GP had a duty of care to Mrs Hamilton.

The HSE, it was claimed, was responsible for the management and operation of the Breast Centre North West clinic. It was claimed there was a failure to diagnose the cancer at an earlier treatable stage.

Liability was admitted last month and the case was before the court for assessment of damages.

Irish Independent

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