Saturday 23 June 2018

Woman who died after late-stage abortion was discharged from clinic despite vomiting - inquest

Dr Adedayo Adedeji, 63, arrives at the Old Bailey, London, where he and two nurses face prosecution over the death of 32-year-old Malawian-born Aisha Chithira. Yui Mok/PA Wire
Dr Adedayo Adedeji, 63, arrives at the Old Bailey, London, where he and two nurses face prosecution over the death of 32-year-old Malawian-born Aisha Chithira. Yui Mok/PA Wire

Jack Hardy

A woman who died following a late-stage abortion procedure was discharged from the clinic despite vomiting and swaying so much she looked "drunk", an inquest has heard.

Aisha Chithira, 31, travelled to England from Ireland to have a termination at a Marie Stopes clinic in Ealing, west London, on January 21 2012.

She suffered a tear to her uterus during the "blind" procedure performed under anaesthetic, West London Coroner's Court heard.

Afterwards she vomited in a stairwell and complained of feeling unwell to her husband, but was helped into a taxi to a cousin's home in Slough by staff at the clinic. They had told her she could not stay overnight.

One of the nurses denied they had pressured her to leave because they had wanted to go home.

Corinne Slingo, representing Marie Stopes, said: "The taxi driver says he saw his passenger walking out of the building. He was quite shocked, she didn't seem with it at all.

Aisha Chithira died after having a termination at a Marie Stopes clinic in London
Aisha Chithira died after having a termination at a Marie Stopes clinic in London

"She looked like she was drunk."

Reading from a statement, she added: "The nurse got her in a hug and she said 'don't do that, you will break my bones'."

Mrs Chithira's husband Ryan said he received a call from her at around 7.30pm as he cared for their daughter in Ireland.

"Aisha told me she had finished having the procedure and was going to get a taxi back to Slough," a statement read to the court said.

"She just said 'I cannot speak, I'm feeling too weak to speak' and then she ended the call.

"I kept ringing her but there was no reply, Aisha didn't ring back or reply to my texts - I thought at first she had arrived in Slough and just wanted to rest.

"Her sister called me, this was at 12.42am. She asked me where Aisha was and I said she was in Slough, she said she wasn't in Slough.

"Ten minutes later she called me back and said someone had called her and Aisha was dead."

The mother had suffered catastrophic internal bleeding and died the same night.

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.

Dr Adedeji said they had noticed the tear during surgery but it had not been bleeding at the time.

Mrs Chithira, who was from Malawi but settled in the Republic of Ireland, had a history of non-cancerous growths around the womb called fibroids which made the procedure more complex.

The surgeon, who said he had performed around 2,000 terminations, said the procedure was performed "blind".

Nurse Margaret Miller, 54, arrives at the Old Bailey, London, where she and two others face prosecution over the death of 32-year-old Malawian-born Aisha Chithira. Yui Mok/PA Wire
Nurse Margaret Miller, 54, arrives at the Old Bailey, London, where she and two others face prosecution over the death of 32-year-old Malawian-born Aisha Chithira. Yui Mok/PA Wire

He denied the tear could have been caused by damage from his surgery or from him cutting a fibroid, adding: "There was no bleeding, it wasn't at the time that it was bleeding."

The delay in the bleeding starting could have been due to the drip Mrs Chithira was attached to for two hours following surgery, he added.

Acting senior coroner for west London Dr Sean Cummings is expected to continue hearing the case on Friday at 10am.

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