Inquest into childbirth death of woman due to start in Enniskillen next month

Family ‘anxious beyond description’ to find out why Dhara Kivlehan died a week after giving birth in Sligo General Hospital


A week has been provisionally set aside next month for an inquest into the death of Dhara Kivlehan (28), who died a week after giving birth at Sligo General Hospital three years ago.

Coroner John Lecky, at a preliminary hearing in Belfast yesterday, scheduled the full inquest to start in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, on October 21st. A civil case that Ms Kivlehan's widower, Michael, from Dromohair, Co Leitrim, is taking against the Health Service Executive, is due to start in early December.

His Sligo solicitor Damien Tansey, in response to Mr Lecky, insisted at the preliminary hearing yesterday that the full inquest would not be a "dry run" for the civil case in the Dublin High Court.

Mr Kivlehan is alleging 23 counts of negligence in the care of his late wife at Sligo General Hospital in September 2010.

“The Kivlehan family and Mr Kivlehan in particular are anxious beyond description to be afforded the opportunity to get some answers for the untimely death of his dear late wife,” said Mr Tansey. “It won’t be a dry run.”

The inquest is being heard in Northern Ireland because Ms Kivlehan, nee Shandhu, originally from Gujarat in northwestern India, died in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. She was treated in Belfast after she became seriously ill following the birth of her son Dior in Sligo hospital. Ms Kivlehan experienced complications before the birth. Dior, who was at the hearing yesterday with his father and his grandparents, Michael and Susan Kivlehan, was delivered by Caesarean section in Sligo on September 22nd, 2010.

Thereafter Ms Kivlehan developed further complications and was transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital on September 25th. She died four days later due to multiorgan failure secondary to Hellp syndrome, a complication that occurs in one or two of 1,000 pregnancies. Hellp is a life-threatening obstetric complication, usually a severe complication of pre-eclampsia.

Mr Kivlehan is alleging a number of failures at Sligo hospital, including failure to diagnose pre-eclampsia and Hellp syndrome at the earliest opportunity; failure to react to blood test results when they became available; failure to realise the need for immediate delivery of the baby on the afternoon of September 20th, 2010; failure to react to indications of renal failure, and failure to have Ms Kivlehan seen by doctors of sufficient expertise.

The HSE, represented yesterday by solicitor Declan Hegarty, denies the allegations.

The Kivlehans have requested that 10 doctors from Sligo hospital should give evidence at next month’s inquest. They want five doctors from the Royal Victoria Hospital to give evidence. The coroner does not have the power to compel the doctors from Sligo, which is outside his jurisdiction, to give evidence.

“It is essential to hear from the people in Belfast, the same as it is essential to hear from people in Sligo,” said Mr Tansey. He added: “Everything that was possible to do was done in Belfast. No stone was left unturned in the Royal Victoria. They did everything conceivably possible to save this lady and they failed.”

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times

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