No evidence of mistake during operation, says coroner

A WOMAN suffered septic shock and died nine days after being admitted to a hospital where surgery to rejoin her bowel was unsuccessful, an inquest heard yesterday.

Kitty Donnelly, aged 80, from Dundalk Road, Carlingford, was admitted to the Louth County Hospital on August 27, 2004, with a bowel extension and abdominal pain. The mother-of-10, who had adopted five children, was found to have a tumour causing an obstruction in her bowel.

Surgeon Dr Ibraham Ahmed told Dundalk Coroner’s Court that on September 1, he operated on Ms Donnelly and removed the tumour which looked malignant.

After removing 26cm of bowel, an anastomasis was performed in which the pieces of bowel, either side of the section removed, were joined together with titanium clips.

Ms Donnelly was taken to intensive care and due to a deterioration of her condition, Dr Ahmed said that on the September 3 he decided to check if there was a leak from the bowel. He found “no signs of healing” at the point of the anastomasis and some of the clips had come undone. He did find a leak from the anastomasis into the abdominal cavity. This had resulted in peritonitis and septic shock.

Ms Donnelly did not regain consciousness after the second operation and died on September 5.

Consultant pathologist Dr John Ryan said she died from septic shock and the infection originated from the leak into the bowel.

Louth county coroner Ronan Maguire said there was no evidence of a mistake being done at the time of surgery.

However, he said if a colostomy — instead of an anastomasis — had been performed at the time the tumour was removed, the peritonitis would probably not have set in.

He returned an open verdict and extended sympathies to her family.

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