Thursday 18 January 2018

'We had no idea what was going on' - Parents of newborn girl who died in their arms

John and Joan Mulcair with their 'pride and joy' Luke (Photo: RTE)
John and Joan Mulcair with their 'pride and joy' Luke (Photo: RTE)
Joan and John Mulcair leave the coroner’s inquest into the death of their new-born daughter Caoimhe

Kathryn Hayes

The parents of a baby girl who died in her mother's arms shortly after birth said they 'had no idea what was going on' in the hospital.

Joan and John Mulcair lost their beautiful baby daughter Caoimhe shortly after her birth in 2009.

Caoimhe Mulcair was born and died on February 11, 2009 at University Maternity Hospital Limerick.

Caoimhe was conceived through IVF after they had been trying to start a family for years.

Speaking to RTE Radio One's Sean O'Rourke programme today, the couple described the pregnancy as 'very normal'.

“I was put through natural labour,” Joan said, describing how Caoimhe became distressed.

Joan and John Mulcair leave the coroner’s inquest into the death of their new-born daughter Caoimhe
Joan and John Mulcair leave the coroner’s inquest into the death of their new-born daughter Caoimhe

“Myself and John had no idea what was going on. During the delivery I asked John to cut the cord, but the nurses said they had to take Caoimhe to the special care unit.

“It wasn’t until 15 minutes later that John was called down to the special care unit, but he said he wanted to wait for me," she continued.

"So they put me in a wheelchair and brought me down and there they told us and laid Caoimhe in my arms to die.

“To this day, John will never forget the look on the nurse’s face. You could tell there was something seriously wrong immediately.

“It was a blur. We were saying this is a hospital, this can’t be happening," she added.

Speaking after the inquest into their baby daughter's death at Limerick Coroner's Court yesterday, the Mulcairs said they suffered six years of "pain and torment" before receiving an apology.

Since Caoimhe's death, the couple have become parents to son Luke, whom they told RTE News is their "pride and joy".

The HSE made an out-of-court settlement with the Mulcairs last December and an admission of clinical negligence. However, the couple from Westbury, Corbally, on the outskirts of Limerick city, did not receive any apology until Monday, some six-and-a-half years after their loss.

An inquest jury yesterday returned a verdict of medical misadventure after a letter was read out on behalf of the CEO of the UL Hospitals Group Professor Colette Cowan.

She apologised for "the failings in care" provided to Joan and Caoimhe Mulcair and the "subsequent consequential upset, distress and grief".

The Mulcairs said the HSE should be "ashamed of themselves for putting an ordinary decent family through the pain and torment" of waiting six years for an apology.

A maternity hospital's job, they said, is to bring "precious children into this world safely".

They added: "It is a total disgrace what we had to do to obtain justice for our innocent baby Caoimhe.

"The apology we were handed yesterday, at the last possible moment, is just another example of this disregard. It doesn't really mean anything now to me and Joan because it's too late.

The inquest heard that Mrs Mulcair (44) had a healthy pregnancy. On February 11, 2009 she was admitted with severe pains at 39 weeks pregnancy, and traces revealed decelerations of her baby's heart rate.

Dr Mary Higgins said the decelerations weren't bad enough to warrant an immediate delivery, adding she "genuinely never expected" what happened when baby Caoimhe was born.

Dr Jamaleddin Abujennah, the consultant paediatrician on duty, said Caoimhe was pale and gasping for breath upon birth and immediately transferred to the Special Care Neo-natal Unit.

Joan Mulcair described the "nightmare" of holding her baby at just 27 minutes old, and being told she was dying in her arms.

"We couldn't believe this was happening to us. The hurt and sorrow overcomes you, you're never the same person again,."

Mr Mulcair broke down as he described his family's suffering.

"We hope that the HSE learns from their mistakes and that no other family has to go through what we went through because it's terrible, and it's not fair."

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News