'Tracey was a real lady who loved life and loved kids' - grieving husband of mum who died hours after giving birth
EXCLUSIVE: Bernard Fitzpatrick says much-loved Tracey 'would be heartbroken' if she was watching family's grief
A mum-of-three who died shortly after giving birth "was a real lady" who wanted another baby "to make her family complete", her grieving husband said.
Tracey Campbell Fitzpatrick (36) died on Easter Monday in 2016 shortly after giving birth to her son Max at St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny.
Her widower Bernard Fitzpatrick has paid tribute to his late wife, saying he wishes for her to be remembered "as a real lady who loved life and loved kids."
Speaking to Independent.ie, Bernard said Baby Max was "all Tracey wanted".
"It was her dream to have another kid, to have another baby, it was all she wanted, to make her family more together, more complete," Bernard said.
"This is what she wanted. When Max was born, Tracey was so happy.
"But she never got to see her little boy, all she got was a photograph I got to show her.
"Tracey was a full of life lady. To be in this situation, if she was watching this, she would be so heartbroken. She was a mother as well.
"You never think when you go in to have a baby, such a happy time, that this would happen, that you would come home with your new baby, but without your wife."
Bernard spoke following an inquest into Tracey’s death, which was held at Kilkenny Coroner’s Court on Friday.
The jury agreed with the coroner’s verdict that the 36-year-old mother died by natural causes from an extremely rare disease called Amniotic Fluid Infusion Syndrome that presents itself in women either during or after childbirth.
Tracey, originally from Shanvaghera in Mayo, lived with Bernard and two children, Jamie and Adam, in Nurney, Co Carlow.
Tracey, who married her husband Bernard in 2014, gave birth to her healthy baby boy at 00.55 on March 28, 2016, but shortly after the delivery her condition began to suddenly deteriorate and she began to haemorrhage, the inquest heard.
Medical staff became very concerned about her status and she was rushed to an operating theatre for treatment. Sadly, she died before emergency surgery could begin. She was pronounced dead at 3.45am.
Tracey’s husband Bernard, her parents James and Pauline Campbell and other family members attended the inquest on Friday.
The family were emotional as Kilkenny Coroner Mr Tim Kiely shared his sympathies after the verdict.
"This is an extraordinarily tragic case," Mr Kiely said.
"All matters that come before the coroner are tragic, and I don’t wish to weigh them, but this particular set of circumstances is extraordinarily sad. It was also a very traumatic experience for the hospital staff.
"And there is serious hurt for the Campbell Fitzpatrick family. A new baby is a fundamental aspect of life we all look so forward to, and we hope for mum and baby to return home safely.
"Unfortunately it didn’t happen for the Campbell Fitzpatrick family. I am happy to hear Max is progressing well.
"He has the benefit of a great family behind him to help him in life.
"It is heartening to see the level of support you all have, and the support you have for each other."
The inquest heard of Bernard’s last moments with his wife as she became seriously ill, through a statement read by the family solicitor Mr O’Brolchain SC.
"I went to see Max [who was in a different room], I took a photo of Max to show Tracey because she wanted to see her baby.
"I was asked to move away, I saw that her music, the Saw Doctors, was on the radio and told her to try and get a smile from her.
"We were told there was a tear in her uterus and she would be going to the operating theatre, but the lead midwife told us everything would be okay.
"There was no reason to panic. I gave her a kiss goodbye and told her I’d see her soon."
He rang his parents-in-law to come to the hospital to spend time with Tracey, because it was initially believed Max was ill and Bernard would be travelling to Dublin with the new baby.
"It was relatively calm, everyone was in good form," Bernard said of his parents-in-law as they waited to hear news of Tracey.
"An hour or so later, Dr McMurray came in and said he had bad news.
"He said, ‘I’m sorry, Tracey is no longer with us’.
"We were escorted down to see Tracey and a female garda arrived shortly afterwards for an ID."
Pathologist Dr Peter Kelehan told the inquest that there are between 6 and 15 deaths per every 100,000 women due to Amniotic Fluid Infusion Syndrome, according to U.S. data.
The disease involves amniotic fluid from the uterus entering the blood stream and going directly to the lungs. Here it produces hypertension in the heart and also immediately reduces the ability for the blood to clot, meaning haemorrhage can be fatal.
"It is a very, very rare disease that only occurs in pregnancy," Dr Kelehan told the inquest.
"It is a fundamental cause of death in the developed world.
"Detection depends on being able to recognise it from a clinical scenario. It is not identifiable in any way, except at post-mortem.
"It is unpredictable and unpreventable because there is no particular situation in the course of pregnancy where you could predict it,” the doctor added.
Dr Kelehan said there are no tests for the condition, although there have been many attempts to find a test.
"It’s a healthy woman that loses her life this way," Dr Kelehan continued.
"A normal pregnancy and a normal delivery, but a post-partum haemorrhage, which is common, can soon become fatal."
He shared his condolences with the family of Tracey.
St Luke’s Hospital carried out a thorough investigation into Mrs Fiztpatrick’s death and prepared a 160-page report which included several recommendations for the hospital, including the recommendation of the use of a larger
Ireland records an average of two maternal deaths each year.
They are defined as the death of a mother during pregnancy or within 42 days of her pregnancy, ending with the exception of fatalities due to accidents or causes totally unrelated to the pregnancy.