Tuesday 19 March 2019

'Repeated failures' in death of young woman who travelled from Ireland for abortion

Dr Adedayo Adedeji, 63, arrives at the Old Bailey, London. Yui Mok/PA Wire
Dr Adedayo Adedeji, 63, arrives at the Old Bailey, London. Yui Mok/PA Wire

Jemma Crew

A coroner criticised "repeated failures" at an abortion clinic over the death of a mother-of-one, hours after she had her foetus terminated.

Dr Sean Cummings said the case involving Aisha Chithira (31), who travelled to England from Ireland to have a termination at a Marie Stopes clinic in Ealing, was "desperately sad".

Ms Chithira, who was from Malawi but settled in Ireland, had a history of non-cancerous growths called fibroids around her womb. She had decided to have an abortion after miscarrying twins at 30 weeks and then having her baby girl delivered by C-section, making her worry that childbirth was too much of a risk.

She had to wait a month for a visa to travel to the UK after it became clear that the procedure could not take place here, and due to the late stage of the pregnancy a number of clinics would not accept her.

Ms Chithira's husband Ryan said in a statement after the verdict that his loss was "compounded by the torturous process that has seen my wife's case dragged through the courts over the past six years".

West London Coroner's Court heard Ms Chithira died in January 2012 following a late-stage abortion. She had been discharged from the west London clinic despite vomiting and feeling dizzy.

Ms Chithira suffered a tear to her uterus during the "blind" procedure, performed under anaesthetic, as a surgeon struggled to remove a 22-week-old foetus from a womb that had not fully dilated.

Afterwards, she vomited and complained of feeling unwell to her husband, but was helped into a taxi to a cousin's home in Slough by staff who had told her she could not stay overnight. Later that night, Ms Chithira suffered catastrophic internal bleeding and died.

Dr Adedayo Adedeji, who performed the procedure, and nurses Gemma Pullen and Margaret Miller were charged with manslaughter by gross negligence and a health and safety breach but the case was dropped in 2016.

Recording a narrative verdict, acting senior coroner for west London Dr Cummings said the case had been "catastrophic" for all those concerned.

After the procedure, Ms Chithira had "light bleeding", complained of feeling hot, thirsty and dizzy and fell to the floor, staff at the clinic reported.

However, observations taken by a nurse showed her blood pressure and pulse were normal and doctors told the court her symptoms were "atypical" or "unlucky".

This meant her position was "difficult to diagnose and consequently the severity was missed", the coroner concluded.

He said: "Her death resulted from the manifestation of a recognised complication of the procedure resulting in sometimes subtle and atypical symptoms and signs which were not appreciated as potentially sinister at the time. There were repeated failures of recording of observations by different clinicians involved in her care."

Irish Independent

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