Three years on from Dhara’s death, we still await an inquest, says family

  Michael Kivlehan, whose wife Dhara died from multi-organ failure eight days after giving birth. Picture: PA

The heartbroken family of an Indian woman who died eight days after she became seriously ill at Sligo General Hospital at the time of the birth of her first baby yesterday vowed to continue their legal battle to have an inquest.

Michael Kivlehan, of Dromohair, Co Leitrim, yesterday said many questions remain unanswered surrounding the death of his wife Dhara, three years ago and the family will go back to the High Court if necessary in their push for an inquest.

Mrs Kivlehan, aged 29, originally from Ahmedabad, India, became seriously ill after being admitted to Sligo General Hospital for the birth. She was transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast after four days, but died there on Sept 28, 2010.

Legal experts say it could be a test case on where an inquest should take place when a person who resides in the Republic is transferred out of the jurisdiction for treatment, but dies.

Mrs Kivlehan, who had a healthy baby boy, was airlifted to Belfast on her fourth day in Sligo, but the High Court heard that by that time, her condition was “inevitably doomed”.

In the High Court, the HSE agreed to pay out €790,000 in settlement of the action for damages and said it unreservedly apologises “for the shortcomings in relation to the management and care of Dhara Kivlehan at Sligo Regional Hospital”.

Offering sincere condolences, it added: “The HSE confirms that lessons have been learned from the tragic outcome in Dhara Kivlehan’s case.”

A separate action by her husband for nervous shock as a result of the death of his wife was previously settled for a “substantial sum”.

Outside the courts, Mr Kivlehan said his family are heartbroken their calls for an inquest in this country have been declined.

“An inquest if the least our family deserves.

“Our battle for justice must continue: three years on from Dhara’s death, we still await an inquest. Many unanswered questions need to be addressed and the only forum to establish the truth is a full inquest in this jurisdiction.

“Dhara’s memory deserves an inquest and it is an ongoing breach of our family’s human rights for our calls for justice to remain unheeded.

“Dhara paced herself in life, carefully, like myself, and found things just suddenly cut short. Nobody can plan that, no matter how smart you are.”

He said his son, Dior, was smart like his mother.

Solicitor Damien Tansey said: “We have asked the attorney general in this jurisdiction to direct the coroner to hold an inquest, and that has not happened up to now.

“But the family have now decided that they are so concerned that questions must be answered, that if the attorney general refuses to direct the coroner in Sligo to hold an inquest then we will judicially review that decision in the High Court.”


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