'I still can't believe she's gone. She was so full of life'


Profile:Savita Halappanavar, though devastated at the loss of her pregnancy, was already talking about when she could get pregnant again, as she was brought down to theatre on October 24th.

“She loved kids,” said her husband, Praveen, speaking from India at the end of last week. The couple had come to Ireland in 2008; Savita was 27 and Praveen 31.

She had trained as a dentist in India and passed the Irish Dental Council exams last year. She and Praveen settled in the Roscam area of Galway city. He works as an engineer with Boston Scientific and she had a dental job in Westport, Co Mayo.

She was a “wonderful classical Indian dancer” recalls a friend, Dr CVR Prasad, a former consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Merlin Park hospital in the city who now works at the Galway Clinic.

“She would gather Indian and Irish children together to teach them Indian dances. She had a diamond in one of her front teeth and all the children would ask, ‘Oooh, where did you get that?’ and she’d tell them, ‘Aha, you will have to go to India to get that’.”

She had also become central to organising the annual five-day “Diwali” festival for Galway’s Indian community, choreographing the dancing. Praveen would organise the music and the couple would dance together on stage.

“They were so attached to each other and a lovely couple,” said Prasad. “She finished up her job in Westport when she learned of her pregnancy and invited her parents to visit them from India.”

They left Ireland the day before she went into hospital with back pain on October 21st but they left clothes at the Roscam home, planning to return in March for the birth. Savita was their only daughter.

“I still can’t believe she’s gone,” said Mr Halappanavar.

“I was with her those four days in intensive care. Every time they kept telling me: ‘She’s young. She’ll get over it’. But things never changed, they only got worse. She was so full of life. She loved kids.

“It was all in their hands and they just let her go. How can you let a young woman go to save a baby who will die anyway? Savita could have had more babies.”

“What is the use in being angry? I’ve lost her. I am talking about this because it shouldn’t happen to anyone else. It’s very hard. It has been a terrible few weeks, very hard to understand how this can happen in the 21st century, very hard to explain to her family.

“If it had happened in the UK or India, the whole thing would have been over in a few hours. We just pray now, wherever she is, she is happy.”

This year’s Diwali festival, due to start yesterday, has been cancelled due to the loss of Savita Halappanavar.

* This article was amended on November 16th, 2012 to correct a factual error