Parents of ten-week-old baby who died 24 years ago seeking answers, inquest hears

The parents of a baby girl who suffered a spinal injury during a forceps-assisted delivery and died 24 years ago have questions about her end of life care.

Catherine and Stephen McGarry, parents of baby Jennifer Anna McGarry, will give their account of the circumstances of the birth and subsequent care of their daughter at an inquest into the child’s death.

Baby Jennifer Anna was born on November 28 1991. She suffered a spinal injury during a forceps-assisted delivery at the Coombe Hospital. Her death on February 14 1992, went unreported by the hospital.

Barrister for the family Ciaran Craven told Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane that the parents have questions about ‘whether decisions were made in relation to the withdrawal of end of life care.’ The couple are preparing statements, Mr Craven said, ahead of a full inquest hearing later this year.

Some medical staff likely to have participated in the inquest proceedings are no longer alive Mr Craven said, but a list of possible witnesses is being prepared to include retired Paediatrician Dr Margaret Sheridan.

The baby’s death was first reported to the coroner’s office last October, more than 23 years after her death. At an inquest into the child’s death which opened on May 16 last, Dr Craven said the failure to report the death of baby Jennifer Anna was a ‘travesty.’

Mr Craven said the inquest may be the McGarry's only opportunity to obtain answers to questions they have regarding their daughter's care.

“It may well be that this is the only forum in which these matters will ever be explored,” Mr Craven said.

The McGarry’s say they just want the truth about the circumstances of their child’s birth and subsequent death ten weeks later.

“We just want the truth to be brought out so this never happens to another woman. It shouldn’t have happened in the first place. Our daughter died and we have no children because of it,” Catherine McGarry said.

Barrister for the Coombe Hospital Simon Mills said a full and extensive report into the death had been prepared. The hospital apologised to the parents last year.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane adjourned the inquest and a full hearing will take place on November 15.


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