The widower of an Indian dentist who died after being refused a termination in an Irish hospital as she miscarried has said his wife’s treatment was “horrendous, barbaric and inhuman”.
An inquest jury ruled unanimously that Savita Halappanavar’s death had been due to medical misadventure, and her husband, Praveen, said she had been left to die.
Mrs Halappanavar was 17 weeks pregnant when admitted to the University Hospital Galway on 21 October last year with an inevitable miscarriage.
She died from multi-organ failure from septic shock and E coli, four days after she delivered a dead foetus.
Speaking in Galway after the verdict, Mr Halappanavar said his wife had not benefited in any way by going to the hospital, where she was transferred to high dependency and on to intensive care.
“It was too late,” he said. “The care she received was in no way different to staying at home.
“Medicine is all about preventing the natural history of the disease and improving the patient’s life and health, and look what they did. She was just left there to die. We were always kept in the dark. If Savita would have known her life was at risk, she would have jumped off the bed, straight to a different hospital. But we were never told.”
Mr Halappanavar added: “It’s horrendous, barbaric and inhuman the way Savita was treated in that hospital.”
The couple should have been celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary yesterday.
Mr Halappanavar said he was still considering further action through the courts in Europe as be believed his wife’s right to life had been breached.
The jury at Galway coroner’s court deliberated for two hours and 40 minutes before it returned the verdict and endorsed nine recommendations designed to protect patients in the future.
The misadventure verdict found there had been systemic failures or deficiencies in Mrs Halappanavar’s care before she died, but coroner Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin said they did not contribute to her death.
Mr Halappanavar, 34, shook hands with the coroner and jury members at the end of the hearing, moments after his solicitor openly thanked the coroner for his “extraordinary sensitivity and logic”. The coroner had told the widower the whole of Ireland had sympathised with him.
“Praveen, I want to offer you my sincerest and deepest condolences on the death of Savita,” he said. “You showed tremendous loyalty in the love to her during her last week. The whole of Ireland has followed your story and I want, on their behalf, to offer our deepest sympathy.
“You will also be watched over and protected by the shadow of Savita, who was in our thoughts during this painful and difficult journey.”
The wedding anniversary is not the first time the widower has had to relive his ordeal on a significant date. He was given a health service review of his wife’s death on 30 March, the day their baby, Prasa, had been due.
During seven days of often graphic and upsetting evidence, the jury heard Mrs Halappanavar would probably still be alive today if the law in Ireland allowed an abortion, as she miscarried before there was a real risk to her life, by which time it was too late to save her.
Leading obstetrician Peter Boylan outlined a number of deficiencies in her care but stressed that none on its own was likely to have resulted in her death.