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Thursday 22 March 2018

Mum died 12 days after gastric band operation

Elaine Keogh and Mark Hilliard

A WOMAN died from blood poisoning after travelling to the UK with her daughter where they both had a gastric band fitted.

Catherine 'Violet' Donaghy (61) and her daughter Orla O'Brien both had the procedure carried out at a Hospital Group clinic in Birmingham last March.

However, just 12 days after the operation, Ms Donaghy passed away at her home after developing septicaemia -- blood poisoning -- from an infection in her stomach.

At an inquest into her death yesterday, Louth coroner Ronan Maguire heard Ms Donaghy was morbidly obese and had been struggling with her weight for the last 35 years.

The surgeon who carried out the keyhole procedure said it carried just a one in 2,000 risk of death.

Gastric bands, or 'lap bands', are fitted in the stomach in a surgical procedure to treat obesity.

They decrease the size of the stomach so that patients have to eat less and therefore lose weight.

Dundalk Coroner's Court heard that on the evening of March 22, Ms Donaghy, of Bellingham Green, Castlebellingham, Co Louth, had gone to lie down after becoming unwell.

She was an insulin-dependent diabetic and her blood sugar levels had been rising in the days before her death.

She had also been unable to swallow her medication since the operation.


Her daughter Orla returned home to the house she shared with her mother at around 8.45pm on the day of her death and found her sitting in the ensuite with her head against the wall.

She called for an ambulance and administered CPR until the paramedics arrived. They spent around 40 minutes trying to revive her but she was pronounced dead by a doctor soon afterwards.

Ms O'Brien described how they had both had gastric bands inserted on the same day but after arriving home Violet had been listless, feeling unwell and was unable to eat properly.

Pathologist Dr Tunde Adegbola said her abdomen was very distended and there was discolouration around one of the incisions.

When he examined it more closely he found pus around a rubber tube.

The thin tube was in the subcutaneous tissue and connected to the gastric band around the outside of the stomach. Pus was also around the stomach and the band.

As the stomach is essentially sterile, the pathologist believed it was more likely the infection which was in the skin around the incision had spread "most likely along the device", and possibly "tracked down along it".

It was unclear whether it had started at the stomach end of the device or at the incision end, although the latter was more likely the court heard.

Consultant surgeon Audun Sigurdsson, who carried out the procedure, said the potential risks and benefits of having a gastric band were explained in full to the women, including the potential to develop septiceama.

Ms Donaghy was discharged home the following morning and had been given antibiotics.

Mr Sigurdsson said it was normal to operate on insulin-dependent diabetics and more than 50pc of such patients would come off their medication afterwards.

"It is an operation done against diabetes, not just being overweight," he said adding that infections were rare and generally occurred within weeks of the operation.

Both the deceased and her daughter received post-operative care.

There is a 1pc to 2pc chance of infection at the incision site.

The coroner found that Ms Donaghy died from septicaemia due to infection at the site of the gastric band device.

On the balance of probability it spread from the wound site down into the device, he said, returning an open verdict.

In a statement last night, Aisling Holly, Ireland director of the Hospital Group, offered their condolences to the family.

Irish Independent

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