Widower claims inquest ‘a cover-up’

Michael Kivlehan with his wife Dhara, who died after giving birth at Sligo General Hospital three years ago.

The widower of an Indian woman who died four days after giving birth to her son has alleged a cover-up over plans for a long-awaited inquest into her death.

Dhara Kivlehan, 28, died from multi-organ failure in Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital on September 28, 2010, after suffering a severe strain of pre-eclampsia and being airlifted from Sligo General.

Her husband Michael arrived at Carrick-on-Shannon courthouse an hour into a heated hearing on witnesses.

The 34-year-old, a single father to Dior, 3, launched a broadside from the public gallery after coroner Eamon MacGowan offered to review the witness list but refused to commit to adding to the six names.

“It’s a bloody cover-up. A cover-up. My wife was Indian,” Mr Kivlehan said.

“I’m last on the list (of witnesses). Why is that? You don’t want me to address the press here. I will not stand for this. It’s a cover-up. Shame on you.”

The widower’s parents, Michael Sr and Susan, who were in court, hurried him from the room.

The Kivlehan family have been in dispute with the coroner after he offered to hear evidence from six witnesses — two doctors from Sligo, two doctors from Belfast, Mr Kivlehan and Dr Peter Boylan, the former Master of Holles St and a consultant obstetrician.

The Kivlehans said they want to see the coroner adopt the approach taken by Belfast coroner John Leckey, who had suggested 24 witnesses give evidence when the inquiry into the young mother’s death was opened in the North.

Dr Boylan gave evidence in the inquest into the death of Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar, who died in hospital in Galway in October 2012 after suffering a miscarriage and blood poisoning. The deaths and care of the two Indian women have drawn parallels.

Lawyers for Mr Kivlehan told the coroner his decision to call only six witnesses was bewildering and threatened to challenge the decision in the High Court in Dublin.

The hearing was moved to the Republic amid concerns that medics from Sligo could not be compelled north of the border and after Attorney General Máire Whelan wrote to Dr Leckey to ask if he would agree to a change in jurisdiction.

The inquest is due for a full hearing from September 22 in Carrick-on-Shannon.

Her widower and their son were awarded almost €1m damages late last year after the HSE apologised for shortcomings in her care.


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