Lawyers Call For Better Heart Screening After Mum Dies After Giving Birth

Devastated Husband Loses His Wife On The Same Day His Daughter Is Born

07.09.2012

The family of a mum who died just six hours after giving birth to her first child have joined forces with specialist lawyers in urging the trust where she was treated to provide better screening for people with a family history of Sudden Death Syndrome.
 
First-time mum Asma Naqvi, of Walthamstow in London, died at Whipps Cross University Hospital on 4 February 2011 - the same day she gave birth to her daughter Amber, now 18 months old. Tragically, Asma spent less than five minutes with her daughter before she died.

At an inquest at Walthamstow Magistrates Court, HM Coroner for the Eastern District of Greater London, Chinyere Inyama, said the 26-year-old’s death was caused by Sudden Arrhythmic Cardiac Death Syndrome (SADS), or Sudden Death Syndrome, which can be caused by an underlying heart problem.

Professor Sebastian Lucas, a pathologist who gave evidence at the inquest, described Asma’s case as “the most difficult maternal death he had ever dealt with.”

Specialist medical lawyers at Irwin Mitchell are representing Asma’s close-knit family, including her husband Asim, uncle Syed Hussain, parents Kazam and Hamida, and brothers Zaheer and Samir. Asma’s family are now facing up to the possibility they may also suffer from a similar heart condition, as Sudden Death Syndrome can be linked to inherited genes.
Kevin Saul, a specialist in the medical law team at Irwin Mitchell, said: “This is such a tragic case which has left a girl without her mother, a husband without the wife he adored and her parents without their daughter.

“It was important that an inquest was held to provide Asma’s family with answers about why she died. Asma’s family are still grieving for her and are also devastated that they may be affected by a similar heart problem as the one that caused her death.

“In light of Asma’s death we believe the trust should highlight information and access to screenings where there is a possibility that Sudden Arrhythmic Cardiac Death Syndrome could be relevant.”

Asma’s husband Asim, from North Chingford in London, said: “Asma was overjoyed at the prospect of motherhood and set about meticulously planning for the arrival of our first child.  She wanted to provide the best possible life for our daughter.

“But the one thing she couldn’t plan for was the heart problems she suffered shortly after Amber’s birth. We are devastated about losing her because she was so important to all her family. Losing her has left a void that can never be filled. 

“On the day we should have been celebrating Amber’s birth and planning for our future together, I was mourning the death of my wife, which I don’t think I will ever get over. Amber is too young to ask where her mummy is but I think she’s aware that someone is missing from her life. We show her pictures every day and talk about Asma all the time.

“The inquest was important for us so that we could learn what happened to her and why so that when Amber is old enough and asks us ‘why did mummy die?’ we will have some answers for her. Asma is irreplaceable and we owed it to her to find out why she died on what should have been the happiest day of her life.

“We hope Asma’s case raises awareness about Sudden Arrhythmic Cardiac Death Syndrome and that better screening for heart problems can prevent other families losing their loved ones in such a shocking and unexpected way.”

The court heard that Asma had shown signs of pre-eclampsia and was taken to Whipps Cross University Hospital on 2 February for doctors to induce the birth.
Her waters broke on 3 February but, because of the baby’s position in the womb, staff used forceps to guide Amber out.

During the birth, Asma suffered a serious tear and she lost 400ml of blood – the equivalent to nearly three-quarters of a pint. She was transferred to theatre to enable surgeons to repair the tear.

However, complications occurred when Asma started to complain about chest pains and her heart rate increased dramatically. She became drowsy, had difficulty breathing and her blood pressure plummeted. Doctors gave her oxygen and adrenaline but her heart stopped.

Doctors managed to revive her and suspected she was suffering from a clot on her lung. Following tests and scans doctors gave her an anti-coagulant drug to help thin her blood.  Arrangements were made for and ambulance to transfer her to the intensive care unit, located in another building on the hospital site.

Sadly, Asma continued to bleed heavily and her heart stopped again. Doctors were unable to save her and she died just after 3pm.

The hospital trust is now in the process of introducing new guidelines for its maternity wards and there is work underway to link the maternity unit to the main hospital, which will increase the speed in which women are transferred between the wards.