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'HSE must learn lessons from deaths of our wives'

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Michael Kivlehan (right) and Sean Rowlette, who both lost their wives during childbirth, arriving at Carrick-on-Shannon courthouse during the inquest into the death of Michael's wife Dhara

Michael Kivlehan (right) and Sean Rowlette, who both lost their wives during childbirth, arriving at Carrick-on-Shannon courthouse during the inquest into the death of Michael's wife Dhara

PA

Dhara Kivlehan with her husband Michael. Photo: James Connolly

Dhara Kivlehan with her husband Michael. Photo: James Connolly

Sean Rowlette and his wife Sally Rowlette from Dromore West, Co. Sligo.

Sean Rowlette and his wife Sally Rowlette from Dromore West, Co. Sligo.

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Michael Kivlehan (right) and Sean Rowlette, who both lost their wives during childbirth, arriving at Carrick-on-Shannon courthouse during the inquest into the death of Michael's wife Dhara

TWO men whose wives died from the same illness, after treatment at the same hospital, will today meet Health Minister Leo Varadkar to tell him lessons must be learned.

Dhara Kivlehan (28), a retail manager with Next in Sligo, died from HELLP syndrome in September 2010 - nine days after giving birth to her son Dior by emergency caesarian section at Sligo Regional Hospital.

Sally Rowlette, a mother of four, was 36 when she died from the same illness in Sligo in February 2013. Juries at both inquests returned verdicts of death by medical misadventure.

Both women's husbands, Michael Kivlehan and Sean Rowlette, say they are driven by a determination to save lives.

HELLP is a severe form of pre-eclampsia. More than 98pc of women recover from it.

Ireland's leading expert on the illness Dr Peter Boylan told both inquests that a review of similar deaths in the UK found human errors were factors "in almost every single case".

Mr Rowlette said his wife's inquest in December has left him grieving again.

"I think I got through the first Christmas without Sally because I was just in raw shock."

Her inquest found that she had HELLP syndrome during a previous pregnancy but was never counselled about possible dangers of another pregnancy.

"I'm grateful the minister came back so quickly to offer a meeting. We want medical staff to be held more accountable for what they do. It won't cost the State a cent to correct procedures in hospital," said Sean from Dromahair, Co Leitrim.

"Sally was very ill when she was admitted - but it took 40 minutes for her to be seen."

He has become a close friend of Michael Kivlehan. They supported each other through the inquests last year.

The inquest into Dhara's death was delayed for three years for legal reasons.

He said: "Inquests and inquiries need to be held within months when memories are clear so that any problems can be corrected.

"I would get through life a lot easier knowing that no other woman has to go through what Dhara went through - but as we know Sally went through it after Dhara's death. Last-minute apologies aren't good enough.

"It's a sad state of affairs that pregnant women are dying in our hospitals in any circumstances."

The men will meet Mr Varadkar this afternoon.

Irish Independent