Husbands of women who died in childbirth to meet Leo Varadkar

Sally Rowlette and Dhara Kivlehan died after giving birth at Sligo Regional Hospital

Two men whose wives died in childbirth at Sligo Regional Hospital are to meet with Minister for Health Leo Varadkar on Monday.

Welcoming the invitation from the Minister, Michael Kivlehan from Dromahair, Co Leitrim, and Seán Rowlette from Dromore West, Co Sligo, said they are often approached by people who are worried about the state of maternity services.

Mr Kivlehan said he had been getting calls "from all over the country" from people who had read what had happened to his wife Dhara and to Sally Rowlette and were scared.

“I am not in a position to give advice. We don’t have any answers,” said Mr Kivlehan. “ I am not a professional. I want to hear from the Minister; what he proposes.”

Mr Rowlette said he was pleased to have been approached by the Minister so soon after the inquest into his wife’s death.

“I do feel that if the inquest into Dhara’s death had happened faster, Sligo hospital would have known how to deal with Sally’s case. But it took four years for them to realise what had gone wrong,” he said.

Ms Kivlehan (28) died in a Belfast hospital in September 2010, nine days after the couple’s first baby Dior was born in Sligo Regional Hospital but the inquest into her death was not held for four years.

Mr Rowlette’s wife Sally (36) died in the Sligo hospital in February 2013, the day after her fourth child was born there. The inquest was held last month. In both cases verdicts of death by medical misadventure were returned.

Roger Murray from Callan Tansey Solicitors, who represents both families, said they were “tremendously relieved” to have been invited to meet the Minister. “They are looking forward to a productive meeting ,” he said.

Mr Rowlette said both of them would be impressing on the Minister that no other family should have to cope with “what we have gone through and continue to go through”.

He said he was often contacted by people having a baby in the hospital: “If I am out with the children shopping or having a meal I am often approached by people asking me questions – they are worried.”

Mr Rowlette said they want to hear the Minister’s views and recommendations and would be raise practical concerns such as the need for counselling, and the stress of having to wait for years for an inquest.

“This not just about me and Seán,” said Mr Kivlehan. “It is about reassuring all the ladies out there, and their partners, that they will be safe when they go into hospital to have their babies.”

Both Ms Kivlehan and Ms Rowlette had Hellp syndrome, a condition associated with pre-eclampsia

The clinical director of the National Maternity Hospital, Dr Peter Boylan, who gave evidence at the two inquests, highlighted a number of failings in each case.

He said that while Ms Rowlette had come to hospital as a medical emergency there had been a 40-minute delay before her high blood pressure was aggressively treated and there was no consultant in the ICU (intensive care unit) to monitor her condition.

In the case of Ms Kivlehan he said the delay in getting her specialist renal and liver care, and in transferring her to a specialist centre, were factors in her death.

Marese McDonagh

Marese McDonagh

Marese McDonagh, a contributor to The Irish Times, reports from the northwest of Ireland