Doctors who treated an elderly Longford woman who died following an unexplained series of seizures last year told an inquest it was possible that her death was linked to an adverse reaction to a Covid-19 vaccine.
However, two hospital consultants who treated the patient, Bridget Kerr (86), also stressed that it was not in their area of expertise to state definitively that a reaction to the Pfizer vaccine was an explanation for her death.
An inquest at Dublin District Coroner’s Court heard a post-mortem on the body of Ms Kerry, a mother of seven from Cooleeney, Dublin Road, Longford, was inconclusive in establishing the cause of her death.
Evidence was heard that several other possible explanations including stroke, brain tumour and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) had been ruled out.
Ms Kerr died at the Mater Misericordiae Hospital in Dublin on April 27, 2021, after being transferred there from the Midlands Regional Hospital in Mullingar after suffering a number of seizures.
Her family claim their mother only became unwell after receiving the Covid vaccine from her local GP two months earlier.
Ms Kerr’s family doctor, Padraig McGarry, told the inquest that he had advised Ms Kerr to be given the Pfizer vaccine for Covid-19 while he was treating her for a flare up of her rheumatoid arthritis in February 2021.
Dr McGarry, a former president of the Irish Medical Organisation, said he had explained what the vaccine involved to the patient and she had given her consent verbally, despite reservations by some of her relatives which he acknowledged were “totally legitimate.”
He accepted that headaches and chills subsequently experienced by Ms Kerr after she was administered the vaccine on February 26, 2021 were known side-effects.
The inquest heard Ms Kerr, who had previously been well despite stopping her medication, was unable to walk and had to use a wheelchair within weeks of getting the vaccine.
Ms Kerr’s daughter, Deirdre Greene, said her mother had been doing well after recovering from illness the previous year up to the point of receiving the vaccine.
Another daughter, Breege Brady, said her mother had suffered “a rapid deterioration” that coincided with her being given the Pfizer vaccine and was unable to recognise her on March 14, 2021.
A consultant geriatrician at the Midlands Regional Hospital in Mullingar, Clare Fallon, admitted it was possible that an adverse reaction to the vaccine had caused the delirium which the patient suffered.
However, Prof Fallon said she did not have the expertise to comment further on the issue. She observed that it was “a very difficult question to answer.”
Prof Fallon said various tests had ruled out many potential causes of Ms Kerr’s seizures, while she had also recovered from another life-threatening condition when she suffered bleeding at the back of her intestines.
Ms Brady told the inquest her family had found it “very insulting and upsetting” that her mother had been described as “a mystery patient” at the hospital in Mullingar because nobody had any answers about what was causing her illness.
In response to questions from Ms Kerr’s daughters, a consultant neurologist at the Mater, Killian O’Rourke, who also treated the deceased, said he was open to the possibility that the Covid vaccine had caused her death.
Dr O’Rourke observed that Ms Kerr had been well up to receiving the vaccine and had subsequently deteriorated.
He said one had to take into account that the vaccine could have caused her illness “in the absence of all other explanations.”
Ms Kerr’s family also expressed concern that a limited post-mortem had been carried out on her body due to the possibility that she might have suffered from CJD, a transmissible and fatal disease, although it was subsequently ruled out.
Ms Brady said it was unacceptable that they had found out such information from an undertaker. She also expressed concern that the pathologist who carried out the post-mortem, Alan Beausang, had not been made aware of her family’s concern about the Pfizer vaccine and its possible role in her mother’s death.
Ms Greene also questioned what the Health Products Regulatory Authority had done with adverse reaction reports that had been sent to it about her mother’s case.
The coroner, Aisling Gannon, expressed regret that the post-mortem had been unable to ascertain the cause of Ms Kerr’s demise despite detailed medical investigations.
Returning an open verdict, Ms Gannon remarked that it was a position “that no family wants to find themselves in.”
A Kildare-based GP, Gerry Waters, who was suspended from practising by the Medical Council last year over his refusal to offer his patients the Covid-19 vaccine, attended the inquest as an observer at the invitation of Ms Kerr’s family.
However, Ms Gannon, refused his request to put questions to various medical witnesses.