Sterilisation gynaecologist sued over birth
A woman became pregnant following a failed sterilisation and gave birth to a baby who died five months later, it has been claimed in the High Court.
Karen Hurley Ahern (39) was shocked to find herself pregnant because she had a blood-clotting disorder and had decided not to have any more children as her condition presented risks to both herself and a child, the court was told yesterday.
Ms Hurley Ahern and her husband Garret Ahern are suing a consultant gynaecologist, Victor Moore, who carried out the sterilisation procedure at Tralee General Hospital in Kerry in 2001, and the HSE, on grounds including alleged negligence in the performance of the procedure.
The defendants deny the claims and also plead the couple were warned of the risk of failure.
The court was told the couple were shocked at finding out Ms Hurley Ahern was pregnant again. She and her husband also endured five months of trauma and upset as their third child, Samuel, who was born with severe abnormalities, fought to survive but died as a result of complications from open-heart surgery.
Ms Hurley Ahern, Assumpta Park, Newcastle West, Limerick, told the court she had a fairly rare disorder, Factor V Leiden mutation, a condition that causes thrombosis particularly during pregnancy.
Following a miscarriage, two difficult pregnancies and two healthy children, the couple were advised by doctors that another pregnancy would be extremely harmful to her health, the court heard.
She was also advised her condition meant there was a greatly increased risk another child would suffer from severe deformities and disabilities.
The couple agreed on sterilisation for Ms Hurley Ahern and a tubal ligation was carried out in February, 2001.
It was claimed that while filshie clips were applied to her fallopian tubes, the procedure was not carried out correctly and the tubes should have been cauterised.
The couple claimed they were not advised that the procedure ran the risk of failure or that additional precautions should be taken to avoid pregnancy.
About 13 months later, she discovered she was pregnant. “I was in total shock, I could not believe it,” she said.
She and Mr Ahern were planning to get married that year but she found herself facing another difficult pregnancy as well as “walking up the aisle pregnant”. When their son Samuel was born, he had to remain in hospital for the entire five months of his life as doctors tried to save him, Ms Hurley Ahern said.
Machines and tubes
After months of watching her son battling to survive, connected to machines and tubes, they eventually were asked in March 2003 by doctors whether they would consent to turning off the machine keeping him alive.
“We still could not turn off the machine but it got really bad and he was fighting for every breath and I then said to the doctor, ‘we are ready’,” Ms Hurley Ahern said. Samuel died 33 minutes later.
“It was so bitter-sweet. For the first time I could hold my son because he had no tubes in him.”
The hearing continues before Mr Justice Seán Ryan.