Inquiry call as student dies days after knee op

The family of a student who died just one week after knee surgery have called for an independent probe into his death because they “would not have any faith in an internal HSE inquiry”.

Legal studies student Niall Comerford, 22, of Fr Delahunty Terrace, Kilkenny, collapsed at the Waterford Institute of Technology on Oct 1, after undergoing surgery to his knee for an ongoing problem due to a workplace injury.

The deceased, an accomplished kickboxer who fought at European title level, had undergone surgery at Kilcreen Hospital in Kilkenny.

At his inquest yesterday, Waterford City Coroner John Goff recorded a death of acute cardiac failure secondary to pulmonary failure, which was caused by deep vein thrombosis originating in his left calf.

In a statement read out yesterday by barrister Michael Murray, the family said: “We feel that Niall’s case should be investigated more thoroughly by an independent body.

“We feel that an independent body such as Hiqa, or any other independent body would be suitable as the family would not have any faith in an internal HSE inquiry,” the statement added.

“We feel there are too many questions pertaining to Niall’s death and not enough answers. We feel that [in] no way should a fit and healthy 22-year-old enter hospital for a procedure on his knee and die exactly seven days later.”

After the hearing, Niall’s parents Walter and Joan said they believed their son would be alive if he had received a better aftercare service.

Mr Comerford said: “There is thousands upon thousands being paid out in wages in the health service... and it took my son to die for them to realise that they needed an aftercare sheet?

“Every hospital has a clinical risk assessor and in every orthopaedic hospital we’ve been told these sheets are not being given out.”

Ms Comerford said that her son was left out of Kilcreen following the operation “with a prescription for paracetamol and a discharge letter for the doctor”.

She said: “He really should not be in St Ciaran’s Cemetery today; he should be here with us. If he had the information about the symptoms, he would be alive. We have absolutely no doubt about that.”


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