The husband of the late Savita Halappanavar is “not at all happy” at the failure to deliver a preliminary report into his wife’s death before Christmas.
Praveen Halappanavar and his solicitor, Gerard O’Donnell, met Minister for Health James Reilly in Athlone on Wednesday night, at the request of the Minister.
They had been assured last month that they would receive a preliminary report “before Christmas” from the Health Service Executive inquiry into the death on October 28th of Ms Halappanavar (31) at Galway University Hospital. Mr O’Donnell says they expected to receive this at the Athlone meeting.
Ms Halappanavar died at the Galway hospital seven days after she had presented with back pain at its maternity unit. She had been 17 weeks pregnant and was found to be miscarrying. Her husband says she asked repeatedly over a three-day period for a termination but was refused as there was a foetal heartbeat present and they were told “this is a Catholic country”.
An autopsy carried out by Dr Grace Callagy two days later found she died of septicaemia “documented ante-mortem” and E.coli ESBL.
The HSE inquiry into her death was established on November 20th under the chairman ship of Prof Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, head of obstetrics and gynaecology at St George’s Hospital, University of London.
Read full article by Kitty Holland here
Praveen Halappanavar, 34, pens heart-wrenching diary of days leading to death of wife Savita, 31Savita died in hospital in Galway, Ireland, after surgeons didn't remove her miscarrying babyThey told her it wasn't possible in Catholic country
Two months ago Savita and Praveen Halappanavar were looking forward to the birth of their first baby.
Praveen, 34, an engineer at a firm that makes medical equipment, and dentist Savita, 31, lived in Galway city, Ireland, moving there from India after marrying.
When Savita was 17 weeks pregnant she was admitted to University hospital in Galway with back pain - and told she was miscarrying.
Her repeated requests for a termination were refused on the grounds that Ireland 'is a Catholic country'.
A week after arriving in hospital, she died holding Praveen's hand. Her death sparked an international storm, with calls for Ireland to immediately change its abortion laws.
Here Praveen chronicles his wife's heartbreaking story, from her first scan to her tragic death . . .
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19: We're thrilled to see the baby on the screen Savita and I have been waiting weeks for our first scan. When we finally see it, we couldn't be more happy.
When she became pregnant over the summer, we were over the moon. We are told the baby is 'absolutely fine' and given a due date of March 30.
Early on, we decided not to find out if it was a boy or a girl, we really want it to be a surprise. Secretly though, Savita is wishing for a girl.
As we drive home, she and I excitedly plan the next few months. She shares the news with her parents who are visiting us from India for a few weeks. They are delighted: this baby is going to be their first grandchild.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20: We spend a lovely day celebrating with friends. That evening Savita's mum cooks us an Indian meal and we chat happily.
After watching television, we go to bed at 10pm. Savita is tired after a long but very pleasant day.
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The Health Information and Quality Authority may have to establish a further investigation into how pregnant women who are getting increasingly ill are cared for in Irish hospitals, following its inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar.
The authority, which this afternoon published the terms of reference for its investigation into the death of the 31 year-old pregnant woman at Galway University Hospital last month, said if it emerged that there may be “serious risks” to any other woman in a similar situation in the future, it may recommend “further investigation or ..a new [one] “.
Full article by Kitty Holland here
When I argued a case challenging Ireland's ban on abortion before the European Court of Human Rights in 2009, I told the story of my client, "Ms. C," who had been battling cancer when she became pregnant. Ms. C's doctors in Ireland, where abortion is illegal and lifesaving abortion is largely unavailable, refused to provide her with even basic information about the risk that continuation of pregnancy posed to her life, and so she had no option but to travel to England to obtain an abortion.
The human rights court found this to be a clear violation of my client's rights under the European Convention on Human Rights and in 2010 demanded that Ireland reform its abortion laws. The case was considered a major victory for women.
But the victory exists only on paper, as is clear from the tragic case of Savita Halappanavar. Last month Halappanavar, 31, died from a pregnancy-related blood infection after doctors in Ireland refused to perform an abortion. According to her husband, as Halappanavar's health deteriorated, she had begged doctors for medically necessary treatment. Even after her doctors acknowledged that there was no chance her fetus would survive, they refused to terminate the pregnancy as long as they could detect even the faintest fetal heartbeat. Halappanavar slipped into a coma from which she never recovered.
Full article by Julie F. Kay here
"International human rights groups" have contacted the husband of the late Savita Halappanavar and have pledged to help him in his European court battle.
Praveen Halappanavar’s solicitor, Gerard O’Donnell, revealed the situation to the Irish Examiner after the deadline the widower gave for an independent State inquiry to be set up passed yesterday without progress.
Mr O’Donnell said that three days after he wrote to Health Minister James Reilly on the matter, the only response had been a note on Wednesday evening confirming the correspondence had been received.
Mr O’Donnell said he and his client are now committing to taking a European Court of Human Rights case against the State — with the move receiving "international" support.
"Given the huge amount of international attention this has received we do have offers of help from people in human rights groups [in relation to the case].
"There are a wealth of people, from Britain and elsewhere, who said they want to offer their services to Praveen. Some of these organisations are known internationally, although I don’t wish to name them yet," the solicitor said.
Full article by Fiachra Ó Cionnaith here
Praveen Halapanavar is to take a case to the European Court of Human Rights - saying his right to a full public inquiry is being ignored.
The family of Savita Halappanavar’s had earlier warned the Governement they would make such an application if they didn't agree to a full public inquiry into the circumstances of her death by today.
Separate inquiries by the HSE and the Health Information and Quality Authority are to proceed.
Gerard O'Donnell is the solicitor for Mr Halappanavar:
The Irish Catholic Bishops have seen fit to clarify the church’s view on gynecology given Savita Halappanavar’s death from sepsis at 17 weeks in her pregnancy and the concern that evacuating her uterus was delayed because the fetus still had a heart beat. The full statement is here, but this is the excerpt I find most troubling:
- Whereas abortion is the direct and intentional destruction of an unborn baby and is gravely immoral in all circumstances, this is different from medical treatments which do not directly and intentionally seek to end the life of the unborn baby. Current law and medical guidelines in Ireland allow nurses and doctors in Irish hospitals to apply this vital distinction in practice while upholding the equal right to life of both a mother and her unborn baby.
I spent quite sometime trying to understand how one could possibly translate this statement into medical care. I’ve been a doctor for 22 years and an OB/GYN for 17 years and I admit that I am at a bit of a loss. My three interpretations are as follows.
- Terminating a pregnancy is “gravely immoral in all circumstances.” All circumstances includes 17 weeks and ruptured membranes. Unless I misunderstand the meaning of “all,” then Irish Catholic Bishops also view ending a pregnancy at 17 weeks with ruptured membranes and sepsis, either by induction of labor or the surgical dilation and evaluation (D & E), to be “gravely immoral.” They must also view ending a pregnancy for a woman who previously had postpartum cardiomyopathy and a 50% risk of death in her pregnancy as “gravely immoral.” So if you have a medical condition that is rapidly deteriorating because of your pregnancy, too bad for you if you live in Ireland. Because the mother and unborn baby have equal rights to life, Irish law spares women the anguish of choosing their own life. Neither can be first, so both must die.
Full article by Dr Jen Gunter here
The family of Savita Halappanavar say the Minister for Health, James Reilly, has until Thursday to agree to a public inquiry into her death or else they will take their case the European Court of Human Rights.
The father of the late Ms Halappanavar has made an appeal to the Government to consider a public inquiry.
Speaking from India, Mr Andanappa Yalagi said the family were not happy with the progress made so far. He added that he did not understand, or trust, the HSE investigation.
Dr Reilly has said that when he receives the reports of the two current investigations into her death, he will take whatever action is needed.
Earlier, Mr Reilly said he respects the views of Praveen Halappanavar and his right to do as he sees fit in seeking a different inquiry into his wife's death.
The minister said he has a duty of care to the women of Ireland and the west of Ireland to ensure practices at University Hospital Galway are safe.
He added that he has a duty to reassure them it is a safe place to have a baby and that he has to await the outcome of the internal and HIQA inquiries.
Minister Reilly said he will take whatever action those inquiries demand, but that "in fairness", this was the first maternal death at the Galway hospital in 17 years, and the service there has been safe.
The husband of Savita Halappanavar is considering lodging a complaint to the Ombudsman to assert his ownership of his wife’s medical notes, his solicitor has said.
Gerard O’Donnell said he had taken instructions from Praveen Halappanavar to seek direction from the Ombudsman on whether he or Galway University Hospital owns her medical records.
Mr Halappanavar has objected to the use of his wife’s notes in a HSE inquiry into her death. He has said he has no faith in a HSE-run inquiry and does not want her notes used in it.
Mr O’Donnell had asked that the hospital, where Ms Halappanavar died last month, hand over the original medical notes. However, the HSE has said it owns them.
A spokesman for the Ombudsman said last night it was unlikely her office would have a role in this dispute.
Mr Halappanavar met Minister for Health James Reilly for 25 minutes yesterday in Galway.
Ms Halappanavar died on October 28th, having presented a week earlier at the hospital with back pain. She had been 17 weeks pregnant and had been found to be miscarrying. Mr Halappanavar says she asked repeatedly for a termination and this was refused as the foetal heartbeat was present.
The Health Information and Quality Authority will publish the terms of reference of its inquiry into her death next week.
The investigation, for which no time span is indicated, will make use of outside expertise, a spokesman indicated.
In a statement, the authority said it would investigate the safety, quality and standards of services provided by the HSE at Galway University Hospital to “critically ill patients, including critically ill pregnant women, as reflected in the care and treatment provided to Savita Halappanavar”.
Mr Halappanavar said after yesterday’s meeting with Mr Reilly that he was pleased to finally meet a Government representative four weeks after his wife’s death. He said he stressed to the Minister that he did not believe the HSE or Hiqa investigations would be far-reaching enough. “I’m just glad that we met and he just passed on his condolences to the family,” said Mr Halappanavar.
Mr O’Donnell said his client was prepared to go to the European Court of Human Rights if an independent public inquiry was not set up. Galway University Hospital last night confirmed it would co-operate fully with the Hiqa inquiry.
TIMELINE: This is the story of one woman’s death in an Irish hospital, based on the account given by her husband and friends
Savita Halappanavar was admitted to Galway University Hospital with back pain. She was 17 weeks pregnant. Seven days later she was dead. The hospital has said it cannot comment on individual cases and in relation to Ms Halappanavar, it must await the outcome of official investigations.
It’s a Saturday night, and Savita Halappanavar (31) and her husband Praveen (34) are holding a small get-together at their home in the Roscam area of Galway. It’s both a farewell dinner for her parents who are returning to India soon and an opportunity to announce to friends they are expecting a baby. Savita is 17 weeks pregnant. “Savita was very excited, very happy,” recalls Praveen. “All our close friends came to congratulate us.”