'Savita was my very good friend and I miss her every day'
HUNDREDS of people attended candlelight vigils in Ireland and India last night to mark the first anniversary of the death of Savita Halappanavar.
In Galway, friends of the young dentist gathered alongside those who had never known her but whose hearts had been touched by her story. They lit candles in front of a single picture of Savita with the words 'For Savita, Never Again'.
Standing in silence, the crowd listened while a lone singer gave a rendition of 'Nancy Spain', ending it simply: "Savita, we will never forget your name."
Savita had made her life in Galway with her husband Praveen and was looking forward to starting a family there.
Yesterday, close friend Sunil Koppuri, who lit a candle at the vigil, was joined by a number of families from the Indian community who all recalled their friend a year after her death.
"It is difficult today but we are always thinking of Savita. It is not easy, sometimes it feels like she is not gone but then we know it is true. We came today to remember our friend," he said.
Savita's husband Praveen did not attend the small vigil yesterday, spending the day with friends instead.
Vishali Valluri, who was a close friend of Savita, said her close group were struggling to believe a year had passed since her tragic death.
"I still think she can't be gone. She was my very good friend and I miss her every day.
"We thought she would make it, I never thought she would die. It's still very hard every day but especially today," she added.
The 31-year-old dentist died at Galway University Hospital on October 28 of last year.
She was 17 weeks pregnant and miscarrying when she was admitted to the hospital on October 21. She died as a result of septicaemia caused by E.coli ESBL.
A HIQA report into her death highlighted 13 missed opportunities in her care.
Galway mayor Padraig Conneely also attended the vigil. He has lodged a complaint with the Medical Council over the obstetrician who treated Savita, Dr Katherine Astbury.
Meanwhile, around 100 people gathered outside the gates of St Stephen's Green in Dublin, where Savita was honoured with poetry readings and the song 'Siuil a Ruin' by Justine Murphy. Those in attendance spoke of the need to remember Savita and learn from her tragic passing.
"I think it's really important to not just use this as a news story but actually see the significance of this and not to forget this woman who died," Sorcha Gannon, from Portobello, told the Irish Independent.
There was anger too among some, including Declan Meenagh, who said Savita's death was a result of "backward laws" – and added that the new legislation was inadequate in that Savita may still not have survived even with it in place.
Practising nurse Bridin O'Connor, from Lucan, echoed those views and said she would discourage her daughters from returning to Ireland to have children.
"It's the one issue that would always get me out of the house because I feel so shamed. It's such a shameful thing and I think this issue is one of the most important facing us today and it isn't resolved and the legislation doesn't resolve anything."
In her hometown of Belguam, India, Savita's parents and brothers gathered with family to remember her.
"Savita loved Galway and I have very happy memories of visiting there with my daughter," her father Andaneepa told the Irish Independent from his home.