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Partner of mum killed by suspected sepsis is still seeking answers

Review team set up to find out what happened to Karen McEvoy


Karen McEvoy died on Christmas Day in 2018, one week after giving birth to daughter Ruby

Karen McEvoy died on Christmas Day in 2018, one week after giving birth to daughter Ruby

Karen McEvoy died on Christmas Day in 2018, one week after giving birth to daughter Ruby

The grieving partner of a mum-of-three, who unexpectedly died of suspected sepsis on Christmas Day two years ago - just one week after giving birth - has said he is still pleading for answers on how the tragedy happened.

Barry Kelly (28), of Blessington, Co Wicklow, will mark the second anniversary of the death of his partner Karen McEvoy (24) on what should be the happiest time of the year.

Their three children, Toby (5), Jake (3) and Ruby (2), talk about her every day but her death has left a lasting void in the family's lives.

Ms McEvoy, originally from Tallaght, died in Naas General Hospital on December 25, 2018, after giving birth to Ruby on December 18 in the Coombe Hospital.

"We still do not know what has happened," Mr Kelly said.

"There is no closure and no findings to prevent this happening again.

"We have been let down. There were promises but they are just words."

Ms McEvoy had a normal birth in the Coombe and was discharged the following day on December 19 when blood tests were taken.

This was followed by a postnatal appointment two days later and a further visit to the Coombe on December 23 for baby Ruby's heel prick test.

However, Ms McEvoy was feeling ill with flu-like symptoms and was in such pain she was using crutches to walk.

While in the hospital she attended A&E where a urine test was taken.

She was told it might be sciatica and if got worse to go to Tallaght Hospital for an X-ray.

However, her condition did not improve and on Christmas morning her speech was slurred and she was swollen in her hands, face and legs and was transferred to Naas Hospital by ambulance.


The couple attended Naas hospital where she was treated with antibiotics but then suffered a cardiac arrest.

An attempt was made by staff to save her life over the next 40 minutes but Ms McEvoy died, leaving Barry devastated.

The family's legal team, led by barrister Esther Earley and solicitor Niamh O' Brien of O'Brien Murphy solicitors, said the delay in completing the review into Ms McEvoy's death is of great concern.

Ms Earley said an initial review under the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group, chaired by obstetrician Richard Greene, began on March 1, 2019, and the family cooperated with it in full in the hope it would provide some insights into Ms McEvoy's treatment.

The review was due to be completed in 125 days as per the incident management framework guidelines but it was not until November 2019 that an anonymised draft report was completed.

The final report was never provided to the family or the legal team.

It wasn't until May 2020, while they were awaiting the finalised report, that they were eventually informed the review team and their draft report had been stood down and told it was "on the basis that natural justice and fair procedures had not been achieved".

"It was hugely disappointing and frustrating for Barry," Ms Earley said.

A new process, involving another review team, was commissioned and Mr Kelly was advised of its composition in October 2020.

Mr Kelly, who gave up work to look after the children full-time, said the delay is an ongoing stress as they try to cope with the loss of Karen.

"We were together nearly six years. She was a wonderful person," Mr Kelly said.

"It's tough going but thankfully we are doing very well. Santa is bringing Ruby dolls for Christmas and she already rules the house."