The High Court has awarded damages to the family of a mother who bled to death in a Croydon hospital after giving birth to twins by Caesarean.
Rosida Etwaree, 45, never held either of her twin girls, Nabilah and Nuha, as she suffered a major haemorrhage and died several hours after giving birth in Croydon University Hospital.
Croydon Health Services NHS Trust admitted responsibility for breaching its duty of care towards her after the procedure in June 2010.
Etwaree was not properly monitored by hospital staff following the surgery and consequently they failed to record the extent of her blood loss or to identify the major haemorrhage she had suffered, nor did they react to the seriousness of her condition.
Her widower, Ahamud Etwaree, 42, who gave up his job as a forklift truck driver to look after his five surviving children, said: “Money doesn’t replace a mum. My wife is gone. She will never come back. I will continue this mission for justice, until my last breath. I will get answers for our children.”
The Trust’s solicitor, Tamara Swire, echoed the apology of the hospital’s medical director, Tony Newman-Sanders, at the hearing: “We fully recognise that no financial settlement can ever replace what they have lost but we hope it will go some way in easing their financial burden.”
Ahamud Etwaree said he had waited two years for an apology and was still waiting, four years later, to find out who was responsible for his wife’s death.
“When police turned up at my doorstep, I was so shocked. It still makes me numb. Have they put a stop to it? Has anyone been disciplined? I don’t want anyone to go through what my family has been through.”
He told The Times: “I will never forget witnessing her suffer in such a horrendous way.”
As his wife recovered from the procedure, Ahamud Etwaree looked on as she began behaving strangely, lolling her head from side to side and exhaling noisily. She put her fingers down her throat, attempting to make herself sick, before she slipped into cardiac arrest.
He said: “I begged the doctors and nurses to help her but they made me feel like I was panicking over nothing. I watched her die.”
It had been difficult to come to terms with his loss, he said. He suffers flashbacks and nightmares after witnessing his wife’s deterioration, which has resulted in post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
The Mauritian family, who live within walking distance of the Croydon hospital, had their tragedy compounded when one of the twins, Nabilah, died from a heart condition just before her second birthday. She is buried in the same grave as her mother Rosida. Her father Ahamud continues to care for her five siblings.
Senior High Court official Master Cook, who awarded the undisclosed sum, said to the Etwaree family: “I do hope you can go forward and begin to rebuild your lives.”
The Trust suggested that Rosida Etwaree’s death was the result of a “never event” – an incident deemed “unacceptable and eminently preventable”.
However, Rosida Etwaree was one of three women to die in the care of the hospital’s maternity department over two months in 2010.
Solicitor Louise Forsyth said: “This is one of the most horrific cases I have come across and the failings of the trust were nothing short of atrocious.”
“To have a healthy woman die following childbirth in this way in the 21st century is almost incomprehensible, but to know two other women died in the same time period suggests systematic failings.”
Croydon University Hospital could still face charges of corporate manslaughter after the coroner at the inquest into Etwaree’s death considered serious failures of management to be worthy of further investigation by the Crown Prosecution Service
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said: “At the request of the coroner, the Metropolitan Police Service carried out a review of the events prior to the death of a 45-year-old woman who was receiving treatment at a south London hospital. An advice file was submitted to the CPS on January 10. We await their response.”
The Trust said it had “made available all information” to the appropriate authorities.