Thursday 26 April 2018

Couple receive apology after losing two babies at Portiuncula maternity unit

Lorraine and Warren Reilly Photo: RTE screengrab
Lorraine and Warren Reilly Photo: RTE screengrab

Eilish O’Regan

A couple who endured the agony of losing two baby girls at Portiuncula maternity unit have received an unreserved apology for failings in their care.

Lorraine and Warren Reilly from Loughrea, Co Galway are among 18 families whose baby deaths were examined by the troubled maternity unit.

The revelations come in advance of an external review of standards of care in the Galway unit to be published in the coming weeks.

The couple’s babies Asha and Amber were born in the hospital in 2008 and 2010.

Asha was stillborn while baby Amber, who was rushed to Holles St Hospital in Dublin, survived for a week before passing away in her parents’ arms.

They have now received reviews into the deaths. In the case of baby Asha there was a failure to recognise the signs of placental abruption and intervene to deliver the baby.

The review into the baby Amber’s care found there was a failure to identify and respond to abnormal CTG tracings as well as follow the guideline in place for the management of a vaginal birth after caesarean.

Speaking on the RTE's Claire Byrne Live show Lorraine recalled in 2008 she was 30 weeks pregnant when she started to experience pain and went to the hospital.

“I was curled up in a ball in the bed I was in so much pain,” she recalled.

She suffered a massive placental abruption and baby Asha was delivered stillborn.

The couple believed they had just been unfortunate and were advised by the consultant to try again for a baby.

But in early 2015, when they were listening to the radio, they were disturbed to hear a review of infant care at Portiuncula was underway.

“I was shaking I could not believe what I was hearing,” said Lorraine

The couple were included in the expanded review of 18 cases - but they made a shock discovery.

The hospital had already reviewed Amber’s delivery.

The distressed parents were not informed of the review by the hospital.

The unpublished review carried out in 2011 made a series of recommendations including the need for more accurate record keeping. The good practice of open disclosure should be implemented.

They later discovered internal emails in the hospital which they believe showed some staff were trying to “cover their tracks” in relation to the 2011 report on baby Amber.

The Saolta group in response to this told the programme the internal communications were “disturbing” and said it does not “condone the actions/views twhich you refer.”

Another couple Eimear Grennan and Colman Condron Tullamore whose two sons who were born in the unit, suffered complications and survived. One baby Cole was born with umbilical cord wrapped around his neck.

Another baby Finian was born in in 2014. He was struggling  and had to be transferred for vital treatment to the Rotunda.

He was transferred for treatment to Sweden and when returned to Portiuncula contracted MRSA. He made a full recovery .

The reports into their babies’ care did not identify a root cause. The couple said the lack of answers is “cruel.”

In a statement the HSE Saolta Health Care Group – which has responsibility for Portiuncula Hospital – say they have written to Lorraine and Warren Reilly "... to apologise unreservedly and fully for the failures of care delivered to Lorraine that contributed to the likely preventable deaths of Asha and Amber."

They also state that the Reilly’s "...should have been previously informed..." about the 2011 review and they should have been "... given the opportunity to be involved."

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