AIMSI has been contacted by this woman and she asked us to share her story.
She attended U C HG for a missed miscarriage and despite her loss confirmed, was left for several weeks without treatment. She eventually travelled abroad to Spain for care.
This is her experience in her words:
At the end of December I had a missed period so I made a pregnancy test from the Pharmacy and it was positive. At the end of January I went to my GP to have a confirmation. He made a urine test and it was positive. I was 9 weeks pregnant then. Urine tests are not very trustable (the confirmation should be done through a vaginal scan or at least through a blood test) and I told my GP I was a little concerned because I wasn’t having the symptoms I used to when I was pregnant with my first son (continuous heartburning, sacrum pain…). He reassured me by telling me that every pregnancy is different and I trusted him.
Two weeks later I had a small bleeding. I went to my GP, he unsuccessfully tried to hear the baby’s heartbeat, but as it was still very early in the pregnancy (11 weeks) this wasn’t concluding. He sent me to the hospital (University Hospital Galway) with a letter, and told me I would probably have a scan done at the moment. I went to the UHG then, but I didn’t have any scan done. I had a vaginal exploration instead; the doctor found a little tear in my cervix, she told me this was very common at this stage of pregnancy and nothing to be worried about. She also found the cervix was closed so was not worried about a threatened miscarriage. Nevertheless she booked me for a scan in two weeks. As I didn’t want to wait for so long and still had a weird feeling about it, I booked a scan in a private clinic.
I went to the private scan a week later (I was 12 weeks +6 days pregnant then). The doctor didn’t make a vaginal scan but an abdominal scan instead. He told me there was a pregnancy sac in the womb, but that it was empty. There was no heartbeat and he couldn’t see any embryo. He told me to go to the hospital on Monday (it was a Saturday then) to show them the scan report; he told me I would probably have a scan done at the moment, and he recommended me to carry a bag with my stuff since I would probably be booked to have a D&C done. Of course I was very sad and distressed with the news. No woman is prepared to hear this, even if she had a weird feeling about her pregnancy.
So I went to the hospital on Monday with my husband. They made us wait for five hours. I finally saw a doctor, and showed her the scan report and pictures. I had no scan done at the moment. The doctor told me that they needed a second scan done a week apart from the first one I was showing her, so that they could be sure the dates (last period and all that) were not wrong and the pregnancy had really stopped. She told me to go back to the hospital the following Friday (the 22nd February, which was the date I had the scan booked when I got there due to the small bleeding) to have the scan done and that then the doctor would recommend the best option to follow: D&C or tablets to stimulate womb contractions.
Since I knew the dates were right I did not expect anything in this sense, so I spent the saddest week of my life, saying goodbye to my supposed “empty nest”, disappointed with my body -which I thought was not working properly getting rid off it- and trying to mind my 2-year-old son at the same time with my ruined mood.
On Friday I went back to the hospital with my husband, hoping they will finally help me and give me the proper care. I finally had a vaginal scan done. The doctor found a 4 or 5-weeks dead embryo inside the sac. I was wrecked. I wasn’t expecting to see anything since I had been told my sac was empty, so when I saw my little tiny baby there, dead, I was destroyed. I was then almost 14 weeks pregnant, and the embryo stopped growing when it was 4 or 5 weeks. That means I have had a dead embryo inside my womb for more than two months. So besides the deepest sadness in my whole life I was also feeling a great fear. I knew well that I was in risk of infection. Septicaemia following missed miscarriage is not rare, and can be very serious. I already knew Savita’s story. The doctor expressed her condolences for my loss and then asked me how I would like to proceed next. I told her how distressed I was, how deeply sad and scared about the possibility of infection I felt, how difficult it was for me to mind my 2-year-old son with all this going on, and that I wanted to put and end to this nightmare. Then she told me that, since the embryo was smaller than 7mm, they could not help me in any way; that the only thing that could be done was to have another scan done a week apart to be sure the embryo was not growing. Honestly I did not understand anything. I had two scans done a week apart, there was no heartbeat present in any of them, the doctor had just told me my baby was dead, she offered me her condolences, and then she told me she needed to get sure the baby was not growing???? This was extremely shocking to me. Was she expecting it to resuscitate? She told us to wait in a separate room so another doctor would come and talk to us.
So we sat down in the separate individual room and waited. We waited for more than one hour. During that time I was feeling really scared since it had became clear to me that, if any complication raised, these people would let me die, just as they did with Savita, because although the embryo was dead its size was under 7mm. I was not feeling a human being anymore since I was not being treated as a human being. They were just leaving me to my fate; they denied me any assistance, which I believe is the worst thing a human being can do to another one.
Two different doctors came one after the other to talk to us and, as I had feared, none of them wanted to help me in any way.
I went back home destroyed but not willing to be in this hospital’s hands any longer. So I phoned my doctor in Spain (the one who took care of me when I was pregnant with my first baby); I told her the whole story and my situation, and she told to go to her clinic on Monday and that she will perform the D&C then. So we bought the tickets to go to Spain on Sunday. As soon as I spoke to my doctor I started bleeding (my body finally felt safe enough to start working!) and kept bleeding for the whole week-end. We made the trip to Spain on Sunday, a sixteen-hour trip by car, plane, train and taxi. I was bleeding all the way. I didn’t have the chance to see my doctor since as soon as we got to sleep I began feeling the contractions, so we went to emergencies of the nearest hospital. And there I had my miscarriage; doctors helped me with a short aspiration and then made sure nothing was left inside my womb.
That’s the story of my nightmare. I’ve been in hell for several weeks. Now I believe that when a woman gets pregnant in Ireland she just loses her human rights. Doctors here just don’t know the proper way to monitor a pregnancy. The first time I was in my GP’s to get the pregnancy confirmation, the day he congratulated me, my embryo had been already dead for one month. This would certainly not happen in a country where the proper care for pregnancy is taken. We live in the XXI century. Other ways to confirm pregnancy are available, much more trustable ways than a urine test! No one in a country that takes proper care of pregnant women would understand that I had no scan done when I was in the hospital with a bleeding. I just certainly cannot understand how a dead embryo can be more important than the emotional and physical health of the woman, or even her life. This is surely a dangerous country for pregnant women, and I will never ever try to get pregnant again while I’m living here. We’ll try to leave the country, indeed.
Death of Savita in UCHG