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Dublin couple call for criminal inquiry after HSE apologises over botched birth of daughter


Baby Jennifer Anna McGarry pictured during her time in hospital

Baby Jennifer Anna McGarry pictured during her time in hospital

Stephen and Catherina McGarry

Stephen and Catherina McGarry


Baby Jennifer Anna McGarry pictured during her time in hospital

A GRIEVING Dublin couple who lost a baby in a horror botched birth more than 20 years ago have received an apology from the health service.

Catherina and Stephen McGarry's little girl, Jennifer Anna, suffered a spinal injury in a forceps-assisted delivery in the Coombe Hospital in late 1991 that led to her death.

Some of the baby's organs were also removed without their knowledge and no inquest was held into their daughter's death.

A HSE review of the incident that concluded this year found that Jennifer Anna should have been delivered by Caesarean section and that the baby's death most likely would have been avoided if this had been done.

The Sallynoggin couple now want a criminal investigation into their case.

"If I did something wrong I would have to be held accountable for it. What happened to me destroyed my life," Ms McGarry said.

She was admitted to the Coombe Hospital when she went into labour on November 27, 1991.

The labour took longer than expected, but instead of carrying out a Caesarean section, a doctor - named in the HSE report into the incident as Registrar of Obstetrics H - delivered the child using forceps at 11pm on November 28.

In his notes the doctor described the birth as routine.

In a seemingly contradictory statement one midwife described it as a "very difficult delivery".

The doctor subsequently moved abroad and was not available for interview for the HSE report.

In their interview with investigators the parents said Ms McGarry "felt like her whole insides were being pulled out".


"The internal sensation was like knives scratching down both sides of the abdomen.

"The baby appeared to be asphyxiated with forceps marks on her face and skull," the HSE report says.

"I was in so much pain that I couldn't open my eyes," Ms McGarry recalled of the time after the birth.

Baby Jennifer Anna was brought to the Specialist Care Baby Unit (SCBU) where she died in her mother's arms on Valentine's Day 1992.

The HSE report states that "Baby X [Jennifer Anna] should have been delivered by Caesarean section at an earlier time ... and that this would have resulted in Baby X not being delivered by forceps ... thereby most likely, avoiding the injury that occurred to her spinal cord and that eventually resulted in her death".

Ms McGarry said that she continued to suffer from great discomfort and illness after the nightmare delivery.

The couple tried many more times to have children but suffered seven miscarriages. They never had a child.

"The damage that was done to Catherina destroyed her. We have had no lives since this happened to her," Mr McGarry said.

A Coombe Hospital statement said it "cannot comment on any individual case, past or present".

The HSE report stops short of apportioning blame for the death. It includes an apology from the hospital for "deficiencies" in the care provided, for the failure to notify the coroner, and the failure to obtain consent for organ removal.

The couple are statute barred from taking a civil action against the hospital but for them it has never been about a cash settlement.

"There is no way that you could put a price on what we have lost because of this," said Mr McGarry. "We just want someone to be held accountable. Heads should roll for this," he added.