Former Rotunda master says symphysiotomies were done to help women

Former Rotunda master says symphysiotomies were done to help women

A prominent medic has said he believes doctors who performed symphysiotomies were doing their best to help women going through an "obstructed labour".

Symphysiotomy involves cutting of the cartilage of the pelvic joint to allow more room for delivery of the baby. It was carried out on an estimated 1,500 women in Ireland between the 1940s and 1980s.

A €34m compensation scheme has been confirmed for mothers who had the procedure performed at hospitals around the country.

However a report into its use has been branded an "official whitewash" by a support group, after it found that in more than 30% of applications, women were unable to show they had had the procedure.

Former master at the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin Sam Coulter-Smyth (pictured) said: "This was a procedure which was undertaken in an attempt to reduce mortality rather than cause it; I think it needs to be seen in that light.

"It is something that is still being done, and needs to be done, to save mothers' lives in third world countries."

He added that at the time symphysiotomies were being carried out, having an anaesthetic was dangerous and cesarean sectiion was still not a safe option.

"The doctors who were doing these procedures - most of them are not alive and are certainly not working - they were trying to do their best."

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