Tuesday 20 August 2019

'I have not lived a single minute of my life since' - Husband of Malak Thawley responds as medical misadventure verdict returned

Malak Thawley, who died in Holles Street Maternity Hospital last May, pictured with her husband Alan
Malak Thawley, who died in Holles Street Maternity Hospital last May, pictured with her husband Alan
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The grief-stricken husband of a woman who died during a simple operation in the National Maternity Hospital in Holles St has spoken of his "unbearable suffering".

Alan Thawley revealed his ongoing anguish after an inquest returned a verdict of medical misadventure in the death of Malak Thawley (34) a year ago.

Mr Thawley who was unable to attend the inquest due to his level of mental distress said he is a "sad and lonely widower" who had endured unbearable suffering since his wife’s death.

"It is utterly devastating how much a single event can destroy a person," he said in a statement, read outside the coroner’s court by his solicitor Caoimhe Haughey.

“My mind and focus are so concentrated on the day itself that I have not lived a single minute of my life since it happened.

“There is no present moment,” he said.

Malak Thawley, who died in May 2016
Malak Thawley, who died in May 2016

He paid tribute to his legal team led by Ms Haughey who have supported him since the tragedy.

Earlier coroner Dr Myra Cullinane delivered a verdict of medical misadventure after hearing two days of evidence from medical and nursing staff from Holles St and St Vincent’s Hospital.

Ms Thawley who was about to undergo a low-risk operation for ectopic pregnancy on Sunday, May 8 last died after one her main blood vessels was accidentally injured.

Ms Thawley, who was seven weeks pregnant was living in Blackrock with her American husband Alan while he was working in Dublin.

Questions were raised at the inquest about how soon the accident was identified and treated.

Questions also emerged about how blood supplies were delivered to the theatre. However, senior staff said there was no delay.

A number of changes have been made to practice in the hospital since the tragedy and only senior consultants now perform this kind of surgery.

Dr David Crosby, a specialist registrar who did the keyhole surgery on the patient said he was trained in the procedure and had fifteen such operations without independent supervision.

Not long after the surgery beginning at 4.38pm an unexpected bleeding emerged.He was unclear if it was due to ruptured ectopic pregnancy or an injury to a blood vessel.

He called the senior obstetrician who was on call and at 5.35pm Dr Mary Barry, a vascular surgeon at St Vincent’s identified the kind of injury involved.

A catalogue of incidents were recalled by witnesses. Additional surgical equipment including vascular clamps had to be obtained from St Vincent’s Hospital.

A nurse told how she bleeped the laboratory three times for blood supplies and got no answer. A junior said blood pressure equipment could not give an accurate reading.

The theatre had reduced staff due to it being a Sunday although more nurses were deployed once the emergency was alerted. Dr Matthew O Tuathail who was working in the hospital emergency department as a junior doctor said he was asked if he would like to observe the surgery.

When an emergency protocol following haemorrhage was triggered he was asked to find ice. The hospital did not have supplies of ice and he went to a nearby pub for supplies.

The hospital had previous drills on how to respond to an obstetric haemorrhage but not this kind of emergency.

Speaking after the inquest Nicholas Kearns, the deputy chairman of the board of Holles St said: "Our thoughts are very much with Mr Alan Thawley on this difficult day.  We acknowledge the terrible loss he has suffered and the pain and grief he has endured since the death of his wife while in our care.

"Once again we take the opportunity to unreservedly apologise for the shortcomings in our care that led to Malak’s death.  From the outset we have fully accepted our liability in this case. Mr Thawley has suffered a most devastating loss.

"We have conducted a robust internal review which began the day after Mrs Thawley’s death.  We know that nothing can bring Malak back.  However we are determined to continue to implement all that we have learned from this investigation in our clinical practice."

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