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Woman sues over surgery she says was unnecessary

A WOMAN has sued a hospital over an alleged unnecessary procedure carried out on her when she was having her first baby in 1969 at the age of 18.

Olivia Kearney's case centres on a symphysiotomy procedure -- a practice which she alleges was abandoned in the developed world in the 19th century -- done at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, in October 1969.

A symphysiotomy is a surgical procedure which is carried out to permanently widen the pelvis of a woman who might normally require repeat Caesarean sections. It involves cutting through the cartilage binding the pubic bones together, and Ms Kearney claims it was wholly unjustified.

She said the procedure, allegedly performed by gynaecologist Dr Gerard Connolly, since deceased, led to pain and other health problems.

While she had hoped for more children, she was too afraid to have any more because of what happened to her, she said. She felt the pain would be too bad. She had found life very distressing over the years and felt it was all her own fault.

Ms Kearney had recurring nightmares and there was "fear in me all the time".

She sued the Medical Missionaries of Mary as owner and occupier of the hospital. It has denied her claims and contends the procedure was justified in the circumstances.

Ms Kearney, with an address at Castlebellingham, Co Louth, claims the procedure was carried out when she, then pregnant, was admitted to the hospital for the purpose of monitoring and treating high blood pressure.

She claims she was admitted under the care of Dr Connolly who performed an emergency Cesarean section.

Without her knowledge or consent, he also performed a subsequent procedure, a symphysiotomy, but she only became aware of that in 2002 after which she sought her medical records from the hospital.

In her claim, Ms Kearney says she had no memory of the procedure being performed. Her first recollection was being woken up by nuns at the hospital and being told she had a baby boy.

There was a large bandage around her stomach and hip area and she experienced excruciating pain which rose to intolerable levels.

The case continues.

Irish Independent