Wednesday 13 December 2017

Just four of 12 doctors involved in care of mother who died days after giving birth gave depositions, court told

Dhara and Michael Kivlehan.
Dhara and Michael Kivlehan.
Michael Kivlehan with the late Dhara Kivlehan.
The late Dhara Kivlehan.

Greg Harkin

A GRIEVING husband whose wife died just days after giving birth to their first child wants to know why just four out of 12 doctors who cared for her have given depositions for an inquest, his lawyer told a court today.

Indian-born Dhara Kivlehan (29) died at a Belfast hospital in September 2010, eight days after giving birth to their son Dior at Sligo Regional Hospital.

A request by the family for an inquest in Sligo was initially refused by the then coroner Dr Desmond Moran before the Attorney General ordered a hearing should take place.

Last December the HSE agreed to pay Dior and his dad Michael €800,000 in damages and “unreservedly” apologised to them. The agreement was reached without a hearing in the High Court.

Mr Kivlehan, from Dromahair in Co Leitrim, has been working as a full-time dad to his son since the death of his wife, a fashion designer who was a retail and sales manager with the high street chain Next.

Today his solicitor Damian Tansey told new Sligo/Leitrim coroner Eamonn McGowan at Carrick-on-Shannon court that the Kivlehan family were upset that whilst all doctors who treated Dhara at Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital had provided statements, just four of the 12 doctors or consultants at Sligo Regional Hospital had done so.

“Soon it will be four years since Dhara’s death and to say they have gone through hoops to get an inquisitorial process under way with a view to extracting answers would be an understatement,” said Mr Tansey.

Michael Kivlehan, 34, was accompanied at the hearing by Sean Rowlette whose wife Sally died after giving birth at Sligo Regional Hospital last year.

Both women died from died from HELLP syndrome, a form of pre-eclampsia.

Mr Tansey claimed the death of Mrs Kivlehan had “uncanny similarities” to that of Savita Halappanavar.

However this claim was objected to by counsel for the HSE Adrienne Egan.

Today’s preliminary hearing was set to hear submissions from the family and the HSE over the witnesses which should be called.

Mr Tansey said Dhara’s family were upset that whilst depositions had been provided by medical staff in Belfast “just four out of 12 from doctors at our own hospital down the road in Sligo have done so.”

Nurses and midwives at the hospital had provided depositions, he said.

The case was adjourned until July 9 for directions on the list of witnesses, with a provisional full hearing date of September 22, four years to the day after Dhara was admitted to intensive care at Sligo Regional Hospital.

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