Coroner considers no inquest into maternal death

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The Senior Coroner is considering abandoning plans for an inquest into the death of a pregnant woman and her baby at the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald.

Coroner John Leckey made the comment at a Preliminary Hearing of an inquest into the death of 36-year old Cara Louise Officer on Wednesday. Ms Officer died on 12 June last year as a result of Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (TTP), a rare blood disorder that causes abnormal blood clotting. Her baby Ewan was stillborn.

Mr Leckey asserted his provisional view that a report into the death by a retired obstetrician and gynaecologist referred only to as Dr Boyle had been circulated to him, and his provisional view was that it did not indicate that the holding of an inquest was necessary.

The Officer’s family lawyer responded by claiming that a further report is being prepared by an expert in obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Cambridge. Professor Kevin Dalton’s report on the death of the 26-week pregnant Ms Officer is expected to show a ‘divergence of opinion’ with that of Dr Boyle, the court was told.

The Coroner expressed interest in having Dr Boyle and Professor Dalton meet to discuss their diverging opinions to see if any disagreement could be ‘narrowed’. In the meantime, Mr Leckey requested that the final version of the Dalton report be sent to him.

The Detail has previously highlighted the rare and tragic deaths of mothers-to-be and the subsequent investigations by the state; and also of current protocols which rule out inquests in the deaths of children who are stillborn.

The decision of whether or not to hold an inquest in this case will be decided at the next Preliminary Hearing in the middle of next month.