Savita Halappanavar's family distraught over leak

Praveen Halappanavar: "I'm not in a condition to make any statement. The family is shocked about the report being leaked." photograph: cyril byrne

Praveen Halappanavar: "I'm not in a condition to make any statement. The family is shocked about the report being leaked." photograph: cyril byrne

Thu, Feb 14, 2013, 00:00

The husband of the late Savita Halappanavar (31) was “not in a condition” to respond to a leaked copy of a draft HSE report into her death, he said yesterday.

In a brief statement to The Irish Times, Praveen Halappanavar said her family in India was also highly distraught that the preliminary findings from the inquiry appeared to have been leaked to the media before they had been briefed on its contents.

“I’m not in a condition to make any statement. The family is shocked about the report being leaked,” he said yesterday afternoon.

His solicitor, Gerard O’Donnell, said his client was as upset as he had been in the days after his wife’s death.

“I saw him in the days after she died and he is in the same frame of mind. He’s very down, distressed and very upset. He just feels he and Savita have been very badly treated again, that this simply should not have happened and that he and Savita’s family have been treated with total disrespect all the way through.

Public airwaves

“Here he is listening to the report into his wife’s death being bandied about on the public airwaves and he hadn’t even had a chance to look at it.”

Asked if the HSE has been in contact to apologise or offer a copy of the draft report, he said he had not heard from anyone in the executive. “And they have my mobile number.”

A spokeswoman for the HSE said last night there was no draft copy of the report available to hand out but the report would be available when it was finalised.

Meanwhile, Dr CVR Prasad, a close friend of Mr Halappanavar who had helped bring the story of Savita’s death to public light, also said he was “shocked” that the report had been leaked.

Dr Prasad is a consultant orthopaedic surgeon in the Galway Clinic.

“Just yesterday I had an email from Gerry [O’Donnell] telling me the report would be published at the end of the month, then I hear all this on the news,” Dr Prasad said.

He said, however, that the draft, as reported, vindicated everything he and Mr Halappanavar had said.

‘Treatment denied’

“From studying her medical notes, any final-year medical student would have known she should have had an abortion. Treatment was not just delayed.

“It was denied. The pregnancy should have been terminated and Savita would have been with us today.” said Dr Prasad.

Ms Halappanavar died at Galway University Hospital on October 28th last. She had been 17 weeks pregnant when she presented at the hospital a week earlier with severe back pain and was found to be miscarrying.

Her husband said, following her death, that she had been in pain and had repeatedly asked for a medical termination over a three-day period but this was refused as a foetal heartbeat was still present and they were told “this is a Catholic country”.

She died in the hospital’s intensive care unit, four days after the foetal heartbeat stopped.

An autopsy by Dr Grace Callagy found she died of septicaemia “documented ante-mortem” and E.coli ESBL.

Mr O’Donnell reiterated last night that there was no record of Ms Halappanavar’s request for a termination in the medical notes.

“That is what we have always said and that remains the case,” Mr O’Donnell said.

Dr Prasad too said there was no record of her request for an abortion in the medical notes, which he said he knew “off by heart at this stage”.

He said this was significant as it underlined “how Savita’s wishes were totally ignored”.

Her repeated requests for a termination are understood, however, to be recorded in statements from medical staff given to gardaí for the inquest into Ms Halappanavar’s death which gets under way in Galway on April 8th.