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Hospital sought court order to force mother to have C-section


Waterford Regional Hospital

Waterford Regional Hospital

Waterford Regional Hospital

DOCTORS safely delivered a baby by Caesarean section yesterday just hours after a specially convened hearing of the High Court, where lawyers for Waterford Regional Hospital made an emergency application to carry out the procedure on the mother who had refused to co-operate with medical staff.

At the emergency High Court hearing yesterday, counsel for the hospital said the woman was refusing consent to a Caesarean section though she was 13 days overdue.

But when the case was called, the court was then told the woman had relented and now consented to an emergency Caesarean section.

Judge John Hedigan said if it is not necessary, then it was appropriate that no court order is made.

The Sunday Independent has learned that a successful C-section was carried out within hours of the High Court hearing and both mother and baby are well.

Yesterday, the hospital refused to comment on the unusual case, citing patient confidentiality.

The court had initially heard that in this case there was a danger that if the woman was to deliver naturally, as was her desire, her uterus could rupture and there would be a grave risk to her and her baby.

In an affidavit by a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, the court was told that the baby could die or have severe brain damage, and the mother would be at a serious risk of a haemorrhage.

The woman at the centre of the case cannot be identified and was known as 'A' during the hearing.

Lawyers for the hospital told the court that the woman previously delivered a baby boy in 2010 by Caesarean section.

The court heard that that baby was "high and not engaged" and an emergency C-section was carried out. The baby weighed 3.6kg.

Lawyers for the hospital said there is a similarity with the current case.

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The court heard there is a scar on the mother's uterus and if it ruptured there is a risk to mother and baby.

Another consultant obstetrician, who gave evidence by telephone, said the latest scan carried out that morning on the woman was not reassuring and he told the court he had advised her strongly that she needed a Caesarean immediately. He said he would have done it already.

The court heard that the mother had said that she would like to deliver naturally and if there was an emergency over the weekend she would consent to a Caesarean.

But later the court was told that the woman was vacillating between having it carried out tomorrow or the next day when her husband was due to return to the country.

The court also heard that the mother is disputing the estimated date of delivery, insisting that her due date was March 18. The hospital said that she was due to deliver on February 24 and there is a possibility that she is "further along" than they estimated.

During the sitting, Senior Counsel for the hospital Eileen Barrington had said that what was at issue was the woman's constitutional right to refuse treatment versus the right to life of the unborn and the judge had to balance these.

However, before an order had to be made, the mother consented to the procedure being carried out and the operation was successfully carried out within hours.

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