Mother ‘unaware of risk’ at pregnanc

A conflict has arisen over whether a mother who died after giving birth was aware she had the deadly Hellp syndrome.

Medics have claimed at her inquest that Sally Rowlett was aware of the risk because she had it during her second of four pregnancies.

But her inquest was told by her 39-year-old widower Sean that he never heard of Hellp until Sally died after giving birth to her fourth child in February, 2013.

He also insisted that neither he nor his wife was ever told what Hellp syndrome was. But on the second day of the inquest in Sligo yesterday, the doctor who assisted at the birth of Sally jnr in February last year, Dr Heather Langan, claimed the mother knew about Hellp.

Obstetrician Dr Langan said after Sally jnr was born in Sligo Regional Hospital, she told the mother and Sean she would have to be transferred to the intensive care unit for ongoing treatment.

Dr Langan said: “Sally herself at the time asked if she was suffering from Hellp syndrome as had occurred following her second pregnancy and she had recalled that I had provided care to her at that time.”

Sally, 36, from Dromore West, Co Sligo, died from a stroke the day after giving birth to Sally jnr. She went to hospital from home with a severe headache just after midnight on February 4 after kissing goodbye to her other children Leanne, 9, Abbie, 7, and four-year-old Joseph.

Coroner Eamon MacGowan and a jury of nine has heard from a pathologist that death was caused by brain haemorrhage due to Hellp syndrome and pre-eclampsia, a high blood pressure pregnancy disorder. Dr Langan told how she first met Sally in 2007 during her second pregnancy.

When baby Abbie was delivered by induction following a diagnosis of Hellp syndrome, the mother was transferred to the intensive care unit for ongoing monitoring and treatment for 24 hours.

Later, a letter was sent to her GP stating Sally delivered Abbie following Hellp syndrome and that her blood pressure and symptoms had fully resolved. Dr Langan said there were no complications during Sally’s third pregnancy when Joseph was born under the supervision of another obstetrician, Dr Murshid Ismail.

The inquest has been told Dr Ismail was also Sally’s obstetrician during her fourth pregnancy, but he wasn’t on duty at the hospital when she was admitted. Instead, Dr Langan was phoned at home to assist at the delivery.

She was asked by solicitor Roger Murray, for the Rowlette family, if she would have done anything different to what Dr Ismail did during Sally’s visits. She told the inquest that, with her knowledge of Sally having suffered Hellp syndrome during the second pregnancy, she would have brought her in for induction two weeks earlier.

Sean Rowlette told the inquest on the first day that Dr Ismail acknowledged other doctors had diagnosed Sally with Hellp syndrome but that he did not agree. He felt there “was something else at play” and he would investigate and he “wished to prove something”.

Dr Ismail resigned from the hospital soon after Sally’s death. He will not be a witness. Attempts by solicitors and the coroner to trace him have failed. He is believed to be in Saudi Arabia. The inquest is expected to continue for most of this week.

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