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Saturday 20 January 2018

Verdict of misadventure in ‘home birth baby’ inquest

Sarah Williams and Emmet Heneghan arrive at Castlebar Coroner's Court
Sarah Williams and Emmet Heneghan arrive at Castlebar Coroner's Court

Tom Shiel

THE coroner at the inquest of a baby boy who was stillborn following an attempted home birth has recorded a verdict of misadventure.

The planned home birth of baby Kai David Williams Heneghan in Louisburgh, Co Mayo in May 2011, was abandoned and the infant's mother, Sarah Williams, was rushed to Mayo General Hospital after the heartbeat began to diminish.

Shortly afterwards, Kai was delivered, but was stillborn.

Following a two day hearing in Castlebar, the south Mayo Coroner John O’Dwyer said that the death was clearly a tragedy for the baby’s parents – Sarah Williams and Emmet Heneghan – and for the midwife Christina Engel

The burden of responsibility on midwives when assisting at home births is too great for them to be on their own, he added.

Mr O’Dwyer called for changes to ensure that no midwives deal singlehandedly with home deliveries.

He also recommended that the ambulance service should be notified whenever a home birth is planned in case an emergency develops.

Ms Engel, the midwife involved, is from Ballinrobe and worked in New Zealand both as a tutor and working midwife for many years before returning to work in Mayo.

Expressing his deepest sympathy with the infant’s parents, Sarah Williams and Emmett Henaghan, the Coroner said he hoped that lessons could be learned from the tragedy.

Mr. O’Dwyer added that the distance of a home birth from the local maternity hospital should be factored in whenever home deliveries are planned.

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