Woman (24) who died a week after giving birth had sepsis, says coroner

Karen McEvoy’s partner calls for inquiry into her death in Naas hospital on Christmas Day

Karen McEvoy and partner Barry Kelly.

Karen McEvoy and partner Barry Kelly.


A young mother who died on Christmas Day, a week after giving birth, had sepsis, preliminary postmortem results indicate.

Karen McEvoy (24), originally from Tallaght, died as a result of “multiorgan failure with septicaemia”, Kildare county coroner Dr Denis Cusack last night informed the solicitor acting for Ms McEvoy’s partner, Barry Kelly.

Mr Kelly (26) said the findings were as he expected and “very disturbing” and he reiterated his call for a “a full external inquiry, with independent experts from abroad” .

Ms McEvoy gave birth to a girl in the Coombe hospital on December 18th. It was a vaginal delivery, at term and her third baby. She and Barry already had two sons, aged one and three, at home in Co Kildare, just outside Blessington.

No blood tests

Within 48 hours of being discharged from the Coombe she was experiencing flu-like symptoms, severe back and pelvic pain, and sweats. During visits to a primary care clinic in Naas on December 21st and the Coombe on December 23rd, Mr Kelly says no blood tests were taken. He says they were told at the Coombe she may have sciatica and to call Tallaght hospital for an X-ray if things got worse.

On Christmas Day her arms, legs and face were swollen. She was slurring her words and found breathing difficult. She was taken by ambulance to Naas General Hospital.

Mr Kelly said staff there advised him her symptoms indicated sepsis. Their plan was to sedate and intubate her to assist her breathing.

During attempts to intubate her, however, she went into cardiac arrest. She died on Christmas Day afternoon.

Interim report

In a statement issued on Wednesday night, Ms O’Brien on behalf of Mr Kelly said: “The coroner has communicated to me that he has received the interim postmortem examination report which gives the preliminary provisional conclusion as to the medical cause of Karen’s death, subject to final confirmation of test results, as multiorgan failure with septicaemia due to puerperal sepsis [postnatal bacterial infection] with Group A streptococcus [a bacterium] infection of the uterus and vagina.”

Ms O’Brien continued: “We are currently awaiting the terms of reference together with the details of the composition of the investigative panel in respect of the inquiry that is being proposed in to the tragic death of Ms McEvoy.

“Nothing less than a full external inquiry, with independent experts from abroad, conducting a fully impartial review, will suffice for Mr Kelly.”

*An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Karen McEvoy died in the Coombe Hospital. She died in Naas General Hospital.