Grieving husband whose wife died of cervical cancer sues and claims for surrogacy

The High Court heard how Aoife Mitchell Creaven had to travel to London to have her much-wanted pregnancy terminated as chemotherapy was her only option
Grieving husband whose wife died of cervical cancer sues and claims for surrogacy

(Left to right) Aoife Mitchell Creaven’s parents, Gabriel and Marcella, with her widowed husband Padraig Creaven leaving the High Court today. Photo: Collins Courts

A grieving husband wants to honour a wish he and his deceased wife had to have a child and is claiming the costs of surrogacy in a High Court action following her death from cervical cancer.

The case against the HSE, three laboratories and a hospital centres on the alleged misinterpretation of the woman’s cervical smear sample in 2011 taken under the CervicalCheck national screening programme.

Padraig Creaven’s wife Aoife was around 20 weeks pregnant through IVF in 2014 when she found out she had terminal cervical cancer and her life expectancy was limited.

Today, the High Court heard how she had to travel to London and have the much-wanted pregnancy terminated as chemotherapy was the only option.

She and her husband, Mr Creaven’s counsel Jeremy Maher SC said, had “the most extraordinary and difficult dilemma” and the “necessary course of action was to terminate the pregnancy”.

Aoife Mitchell Creaven when she died over a year later on April 20, 2015, was 40 years of age and only five stone in weight.

Her husband, counsel said, was left alone with no child and a widower at 44 years of age and her death had a devastating effect on him.

Mr Maher SC, with Ciara McGoldrick BL and instructed by solicitor Cian O’Carroll, told the court that the cost of surrogacy is part of Mr Creaven’s claim.

Aoife Mitchell Creaven from Menlo, Galway, found out in November 2013 she and her husband were to become parents after years of IVF treatment and they were “deliriously happy”. But counsel in an opening statement to the court said their joy with the pregnancy after several unsuccessful IVF attempts was short-lived and Ms Mitchell Creaven found out she had terminal cervical cancer after discovering a lump on her neck in January 2014.

Counsel said:

They were deliriously happy looking forward to the arrival of their child. At the end of 2013 there was a great joy in their household which was short-lived. The couple, counsel said, had to tell Aoife’s parents Gabriel and Marcella Mitchell of her pregnancy and also that she was dying. Counsel said her father collapsed on the floor on hearing the news.

Surgery was not an option and Ms Mitchell Creaven required chemotherapy and counsel said there was a great concern about delay in treatment and in relation to the pregnancy.

He said the couple, when Aoife was dying, had to attend a medical conference in Cork where medics discussed her case and a decision was made that the termination under the legislation at the time could not take place in Ireland. The couple decided they would have to look outside of Ireland.

Ms Mitchell Creaven along with her mother went to London in mid-March 2014 and the termination took place, After that counsel said the couple tried to find anything to prolong Aoife’s life but she died in 2015.

Now, counsel said, Mr Creaven is determined to honour his wife's wish and proceed to have a child through surrogacy. The couple’s frozen embryos are in a fertility clinic in the Czech Republic and Mr Creaven wants to go to the US for surrogacy.

“It is the only way he can fulfill the wish they both had,” counsel added.

He told Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy there was no reason surrogacy costs should not be included in the claim.  

Padraig Creaven's case

The case, counsel said, also includes a claim for aggravated or punitive damages in relation to an alleged comment by a consultant to a member of Aoife’s family during a disclosure meeting in 2018 in relation to the result of a CervicalCheck audit of the 2011 slide. The consultant’s alleged comment "well, nuns don’t get cervical cancer", counsel said, was grossly insensitive.

Aoife’s husband Padraig Creaven has sued on behalf of himself and Aoife’s family.

Mr Padraig Creaven of Menlo, Co. Galway, has sued the HSE and three laboratories, Sonic Healthcare (Ireland ) Ltd with offices at Sandyford Business Park, Dublin; MedLab Pathology Ltd also of Sandyford Business Park and US laboratory Clinical Pathology Laboratories Incorporated (CPL) of Austin, Texas.

The case is also against Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, Dublin.

Ms Mitchell Creaven had a cervical smear test under the CervicalCheck national screening program on August 8, 2011.

She was advised on August 31, 2011, that no abnormalities were detected.

On February 26, 2014, Ms Mitchell Creaven was diagnosed as having Stage Four cervical cancer at the time she was around 20 weeks pregnant following her fifth cycle of IVF fertility treatment.

It is claimed that a review of the 2011 cervical smear slide was carried out in 2014 but the Creaven Mitchell families were not told until 2018 by a hospital consultant that the smear slide was reported incorrectly.

It is claimed against the HSE and the three laboratories that there was an alleged failure to report that the smear slide of 2011 was abnormal and Ms Mitchell Creaven was allegedly deprived the opportunity of timely and effective investigation and management of her condition.

It is claimed against the hospital that it allegedly concealed or failed to advise the Mitchell Creavens in a timely manner the result of a review of her 2011 smear slide.

All the claims are denied. The case continues.

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