Devoted Mum Died After Weight Loss Surgery She Hoped Would Save Her Life

Expert Medical Lawyers Investigating Whether More Could Have Been Done To Prevent Patient’s Death


The heartbroken son of a woman who died after undergoing weight loss surgery has instructed medical law experts to investigate whether hospital staff could have done more to prevent his ‘devoted’ mum’s death.

Catherine De la Rosa, who lived in Gibraltar, had a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 52 placing her in the ‘super obese’ medical category, and returned to the UK in June 2012 specifically for the surgery that she hoped would increase her life expectancy.

But tragically, the mum-of-one died of blood poisoning four days after having a gastric balloon inserted at Leicester Royal Infirmary, which perforated her stomach and caused dangerous fluids to leak into her blood stream.

Her devastated son Kieron, from Gibraltar, has now instructed medical law experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate if more could have been done to prevent his mum’s sudden death.

An inquest at Leicester Town Hall held on 17 September 2013 recorded a verdict of accidental death. However Assistant Coroner Lydia Brown noted: “Although Catherine’s post-operative care was appropriate, there was a missed opportunity to perform a planned CT scan on the evening of 29 June that may have assisted further diagnosis and prompted earlier treatment.”

Charlotte Radcliffe, a specialist in medical law from Irwin Mitchell’s London office, said: “Kieron has understandably been left shocked and devastated by his mum’s death and cannot begin to come to terms with what happened until he has all the information about the circumstances leading to his loss.

“Weight loss, or bariatric surgery as it is medically known, has many associated complications and risks, one of which is perforation, and whilst perforation is not always a result of negligence, failure to recognise and treat the symptoms is worrying.

“We will continue to work on behalf of Kieron with University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust to investigate exactly what happened in the days leading up to his mother’s death to ensure any failings identified are learnt from to prevent any similar tragedies from happening again. Patient safety has to be the priority for the NHS and hopefully we can provide some answers to Kieron about what happened.”

Catherine was admitted for a sleeve gastrectomy procedure – where a large part of the stomach is removed to reduce food intake – on 26 June 2012. However, once surgery began, the doctor found that Catherine’s liver was very enlarged and it was impossible for him to have sufficient access to the stomach for the surgery to be completed.

Instead, he fitted a gastric balloon, which was inserted orally and filled with fluid to reduce the size of Catherine’s stomach, with the aim of helping with weight loss for another six months, when further surgery could be reconsidered.

Following the procedure Catherine complained to hospital staff that she was in a lot of pain and suffering sickness, however these are common post-op symptoms as the body gets used to the balloon.

On 29th June a consultant recommended that if Catherine’s condition had not improved by the end of the day she should be sent for a CT scan to check for stomach leaks. However, despite her ongoing pain and sickness the CT scan never happened and she died of blood poisoning the following morning.

Son Kieron, 32, said: “My mum was a loving and devoted woman who was desperate to lose weight so she could have a better quality of life and life expectancy.

“She was aware of the risks of bariatric surgery but believed she was in the best possible hands if something did go wrong.

“I’m still struggling to come to terms with the fact that she is gone and for me to be able to begin rebuilding my life I need answers about whether the hospital staff really did do everything in their power to help my mum after the surgery.

“I would also like some reassurance that lessons have been learnt from any mistakes made so no one else suffers like my mum. Until then, I cannot fully lay her to rest.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise relating to surgery claims.