Husband sues for surrogacy costs after wife’s death from cervical cancer

Padraig Creaven wants to honour the wish of his late wife Aoife to have a child, court told

 Padraig Creaven (right), of Menlo, Galway, widower of Aoife Mitchell Creaven, leaving the High Court on Wednesday with Aoife’s parents, Gabriel (left) and Marcella (centre) Mitchell. Photograph: Collins Courts

Padraig Creaven (right), of Menlo, Galway, widower of Aoife Mitchell Creaven, leaving the High Court on Wednesday with Aoife’s parents, Gabriel (left) and Marcella (centre) Mitchell. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

A husband is claiming the costs of surrogacy in a High Court action following the death of his wife from cervical cancer.

Padraig Creaven wants to honour the wish of himself and his late wife Aoife to have a child, the court heard.

His case against the HSE, three laboratories and a hospital centres on alleged misinterpretation of his wife’s cervical smear in 2011 taken under the CervicalCheck national screening programme. All the claims are denied.

Aoife Mitchell Creaven was about 20 weeks pregnant through IVF in 2014 when she found out she had terminal cervical cancer and her life expectancy was limited. She had to travel to London to have the much-wanted pregnancy terminated as chemotherapy was the only option.

The couple had “the most extraordinary and difficult dilemma” and the “necessary course of action was to terminate the pregnancy”, Jeremy Maher SC, for Mr Creaven, said.

Ms Mitchell Creaven died on April 20th 2015, aged 40, weighing just five stone. Her husband was left alone, with no child, a widower at 44, and her death had a devastating effect on him, counsel said.

Mr Maher SC, with Ciara McGoldrick BL, instructed by solicitor Cian O’Carroll, said the cost of surrogacy is part of Mr Creaven’s claim.

Ms Mitchell Creaven, from Menlo, Galway found out in November 2013 she and her husband were to become parents after years of IVF treatment and they were “deliriously happy”, counsel said. Their joy after several unsuccessful IVF attempts was short lived when Ms Mitchell Creaven found out she had terminal cervical cancer after discovering a lump on her neck in January 2014.

Chemotherapy

They had to tell Aoife’s parents, Gabriel and Marcella Mitchell, of her pregnancy and that she was dying and her father collapsed on the floor on hearing the news.

Surgery was not an option, chemotherapy was necessary and there was great concern about delay in treatment and in relation to the pregnancy.

When she was dying, the couple had to attend a medical conference in Cork where medics discussed her case and a decision was made that a termination, under the then legislation, could not take place in Ireland. Ms Mitchell Creaven and her mother went to London in mid March 2014 and the termination took place.

After that, the couple tried to find anything to prolong Ms Mitchell Creaven’s life but she died in 2015. Counsel said Mr Creaven is determined to honor his wife’s wish and proceed to have a child through surrogacy. The couple’s frozen embryos are in a fertility clinic in the Czech Republic and Mr Creaven wants to go to the US for surrogacy. “It is the only way he can fulfill the wish they both had.”

Damages

The case also includes a claim for aggravated or punitive damages in relation to an alleged comment by a consultant to a member of Ms Mitchell Creaven’s family during a disclosure meeting in 2018 in relation to the result of an CervicalCheck audit of the 2011 slide. The consultant’s alleged comment: “Well, nuns don’t get cervical cancer” was “grossly insensitive”, counsel said.

On behalf of himself and his late wife’s family, Mr Creaven has sued the HSE and three laboratories , Sonic Healthcare (Ireland ) Ltd, with offices at Sandyford Business Park, Dublin; MedLab Pathology Ltd also of Sandyford Business Park and Clinical Pathology Laboratories Incorporated (CPL) of Austin, Texas. The case is also against Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, Dublin.

Ms Mitchell had a cervical smear test under the CervicalCheck national screening programme on August 8th 2011 and was advised on August 31st 2011 no abnormalities were detected .

On February 26th, 2014, she was diagnosed with stage four cervical cancer when she was about 20 weeks pregnant.

It is claimed a review of the 2011 cervical smear slide was carried out in 2014 but they were not told until 2018 by a hospital consultant the smear slide was reported incorrectly.

It is claimed against the HSE and the laboratories there was failure to report the smear of 2011 was abnormal and Ms Mitchell Creaven was allegedly deprived the opportunity of timely and effective investigation and management of her condition.

It is claimed against the hospital it concealed or failed to advise the couple in a timely manner of the result of a review of her 2011 smear.

All the claims are denied.

The case continues before Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy on Thursday.