Irish hospital issues apology on death of Zimbabwe-born mother six hours after gaving birth

Tatenda Mukwata
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THE Health Service Executive (HSE) of Ireland has issued an apology to the family of a 35-year-old woman who died after giving birth at University Hospital Kerry (UHK) last year.

The apology was issued at the opening of a resumed inquest into the death of Zimbabwe-born Tatenda Mukwata, who lived in a direct provision centre in Kenmare.

She died at 2 am on April 21st, 2022, after giving birth six hours earlier to her fourth daughter, Eva, who was delivered by Caesarean section.

A pathologist told the opening day of the inquest in August that Ms Mukwata had died of haemorrhage and shock.

In its apology at the outset of the resumed inquest on Monday senior counsel John Lucey read an apology signed by Mary Fitzgerald, general manager of UHK, “for the failings of care afforded to Tatenda at this hospital on 20th and 21st April, 2022″.

“We fully accept that these failings should not have happened, and that earlier intervention would probably have prevented Tatenda’s death. An external review of the matter is nearing completion and as a hospital we will endeavour to ensure lessons are learned.

“We are deeply sorry that you have suffered the tragic loss of Tatenda. We wish to apologise to you unreservedly and offer our heartfelt condolences. We acknowledge the grief, stress, trauma, and suffering that you and your family continue to endure as a result of Tatenda’s death, for which we are truly sorry.”

In response, Dr John O’Mahony SC, on behalf of the Mukwata family, said the apology is acknowledged as appropriate., adding it came “very late in the day”.

Rutenda Mukwata (18), the eldest daughter of Tatenda Mukwata , told the inquest how on the night of April 20th at Atlantic Lodge direct provision centre in Kenmare her mother had called the ambulance service around midnight.

The previous day, April 19th, she had met her mother off the bus after she returned from a pre-planned medical appointment at the hospital in Tralee. Her mother was feeling tired and dizzy and felt she might have been kept at the hospital. The family – Tatenda and her three daughters – all slept in the same room in the direct provision centre. At around midnight she woke to hear her mother talking to paramedics. Her mother said she thought she was having contractions.

An ambulance arrived and Tatenda waved goodbye. “That was the last time I saw her in person,” she said. They texted each other and her mother told her she was going for a C-section.

At 1am on April 21st, the hospital contacted Rutenda and asked her to come to the hospital. “I said I had no way to get to the hospital and they sent a police car to come and get me,” Rutenda said.

“I still didn’t know anything was wrong and I was excited to see mom and the baby,” she said.

When she got to the hospital, “they told me my mom didn’t make it,” she said in her deposition.

[ Woman who died following C-section suffered ‘catastrophic’ haemorrhage, inquest told ]

Answering her counsel Dr O’Mahony, Rutenda said her mother looked fine and was still warm. “I just hoped she would wake up,” she said. She kissed her mother and was brought back to Kenmare at around 10 or 11am.

Rutenda was in shock and devastated. She phoned her grandmother Catherine and they agreed she would come (from London) and they would tell her younger sisters together.

Catherine Mukwata said at the beginning of the pregnancy her daughter was attending Cork University Hospital but public transport between Killarney and Kenmare was limited. It was decided by people in Cork to transfer her care to the Kerry hospital.

Tatenda had been HIV positive since 2009, and she would attend a HIV specialist in CUH and always took her medication. She did not want to be transferred to UHK because of being HIV positive. When she was transferred to the care of the Tralee hospital she told her mother how she overheard staff saying they had never dealt with her condition and giving birth with HIV.

“Tatenda was uneasy about this. She said to me, how can I feel confident with this?” This was around February 2022.

However, when Tatenda was told a team had been assembled by UHK to deal with this she felt more relieved.

Questioned by senior counsel for the HSE John Lucey, Catherine Mukwata said she was relieved to hear a team had been assembled who could deal with her HIV and be present when she was giving birth.

However Ms Mukwata said the team was not present when she gave birth.

Paul Hughes, then consultant obstetrician and gynecologist at UHK and now retired, said Tatenda was under the care of the infectious disease team at CUH. They were happy with her and there was regular follow-up.

Her scans were normal and there was good foetal growth.

She was keen to go into spontaneous labour, as she had done so in her previous pregnancies, he said.

The inquest before coroner Helen Lucey continues.

Source: Irish Times