Woman sues HSE over stillborn baby


A hospital’s decision to send a critically ill pregnant woman on a two-hour journey in an ambulance without the necessary blood on board for a transfusion resulted in her baby being stillborn, the High Court was told yesterday.

If the ambulance had been equipped with blood and staff to administer it, dentist Fiona Ní Chonchubhair’s second child, Aodh, would have survived and she would not have suffered the shock, trauma and anger resulting from his death, the court heard.

Ms Ní Chonchubhair (36), who was almost 32 weeks pregnant and bleeding internally, was sent by ambulance from Kerry General Hospital in Tralee on a 71-mile journey to Cork Regional Hospital. When the ambulance arrived at CRH, it took another 15 to 20 minutes for the crew to locate the emergency unit, the court heard.

Ms Ní Chonchubhair, Countess Road, Killarney, Co Kerry, was operated on and received six units of blood to replace what she had lost but the transfusion was too late for her baby, who was delivered stillborn by emergency Caesarean section on May 16th, 2009.

On the opening day of Ms Ní Chonchubhair’s action against the Health Service Executive alleging negligence and breach of duty, Emily Egan SC, for the HSE, offered an apology for what had happened to Ms Ní Chonchubhair and her husband, Stephen Cotter. Liability has been admitted in the case, which is before Mr Justice Seán Ryan for assessment of damages only.

The court was told the HSE had carried out an internal review of what happened to Ms Ní Chonchubhair and had made 12 recommendations to ensure it would not recur. However, she told the court she lacked any confidence the recommendations would be followed. In her action, Ms Ní Chonchubhair is claiming damages for severe personal injury and shock.