Saturday 22 October 2016

Family unhappy with team probing tragic death of mum-to-be

Malak Kuzbary Thawley (34), who died during emergency surgery, with her husband Alan
Malak Kuzbary Thawley (34), who died during emergency surgery, with her husband Alan

The first report into the death of an expectant mother at Holles Street Hospital as she underwent emergency surgery will be completed next month.

Malak Kuzbary Thawley (34) was just seven weeks pregnant when it was discovered that her pregnancy was ectopic. She was scheduled for emergency surgery in the National Maternity Hospital and passed away during the operation.

The Dublin City Coroner has confirmed that there will be an inquest into her untimely death in due course.

Her husband, Alan Thawley, has returned to the United States to grieve for his wife and his lawyers have advised Holles Street that the family are unhappy with the make-up of the investigation team looking into her death.


A letter sent by lawyers for the family highlighted that only one person on the team is not a Holles Street employee.

The investigation must be seen to be independent and proper, according to the correspondence reported by RTE. It is understood that the integrity of the probe is not being called into question.

Solicitor for Mr Thawley, Caoimhe Haughey, previously voiced her own concern about the team that have been elected to investigate the death of the young expectant mum.

"I'm not entirely satisfied with the panel of obstetricians who are reviewing the case, which is made up of doctors from Holles Street and only one external member," she said.

"Ms Haughey said she would prefer more external members involved in the internal investigation "to ensure transparency".

The hospital has been asked to stop the investigation until independent specialists are appointed.

Ms Thawley, a Syrian school teacher, was living in Ireland with her husband at the time of her death.

However, in a statement to the Herald, Holles Street said it still expects to deliver its report in July.

"The National Maternity Hospital is conducting an internal inquiry into the maternal death which took place at the hospital last month, as it is required to do by good governance practice," a spokesman said.

"We understand that the Coroner has confirmed today that an inquest will be held. This is the appropriate statutory process of investigation and will provide an external, independent, sworn public examination of what happened, at which the family will be represented and can call and cross-examine witnesses.

"We expect to complete our own internal inquiry during July and will supply copies to all appropriate people and bodies including the family of the woman who died, the Coroner, the Ireland East Hospital Group, the HSE and HIQA."

Krysia Lynch, chairwoman of the advocacy group AIMs which campaigns for improvements in maternity care, said that an external review process is needed for maternal deaths in Ireland.

"Our opinion would be that in order to make improvements we really need to know exactly what happened and obviously there'll be an internal clinical investigation and that needs to happen so that clinicians working within the hospital can find out what went wrong, if anything went wrong," she said.


"Beyond that point, I really think you need an external review of what happened, what recommendations could be put in place and hopefully, once those recommendations are in place and taken on board, the public can feel assured that something like this isn't going to happen again."

Ms Lynch said independent experts should be drafted in from abroad to allow a fully impartial review of the services.

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