Tuesday 25 June 2019

'We want inquiry so tragedy is the last,' say couple whose healthy baby was aborted

Letter: Caoimhe Haughey has written on behalf of parents. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Letter: Caoimhe Haughey has written on behalf of parents. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

A couple whose healthy baby was aborted at the National Maternity Hospital have called for a full statutory inquiry into the case.

Solicitor Caoimhe Haughey, who represents the parents, has written to Health Minister Simon Harris and Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan on their behalf.

In the letter, she indicates a proposed external review might not go far enough and the distressed couple believe a sworn Section 9 inquiry may be warranted "to eliminate risk".

The mother's pregnancy was terminated in March after a chorionic villus sampling (CVS) test showed that her baby had Trisomy 18, known as Edwards syndrome, and would not survive.

But a more advanced test, returned after the termination, disclosed to the distraught parents that the baby had been healthy.

The testing was carried out at the Merrion Fetal Health Clinic and the termination was then performed in the hospital.

In her letter, Ms Haughey refers to the judgment of Judge Charles Meenan in the case of the late Malak Thawley, a pregnant woman who died after a surgical error at the Holles Street hospital.

She said: "Notwithstanding the main finding of the judgment of Mr Justice Meenan, the learned judge stated the object of a Section 9 enquiry is to eliminate risk rather than a learning exercise.

"He went on to state if certain practices in a hospital are reported as presenting a risk to patients, the Minister for Health has a statutory responsibility to inquire into those risks and intervene in the interest of public patient safety and health."

The letter also refers to the Meenan judgment's quotation: "The potential for learning from some patient safety incidents is so great or the consequences so significant that these incidents require a comprehensive response."

Despite their enormous and overwhelming grief, the couple are putting themselves forward to highlight "a serious patient health and safety risk" in the interest of the greater good, the letter states.

They want to ensure that no other parents will endure a similar tragedy, it added.

The National Maternity Hospital wants to proceed with the external review and is hoping the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists will be in a position to suggest experts this week.

Terms of reference for the review have yet to be drawn up, and the parents have insisted they want input.

Irish Independent

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