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Septic shock confirmed as cause of Savita death

The pathologist who carried out a post mortem on Savita Halappanavar has told an inquest into her death that she died from septic shock, associated with an E.Coli infection.

Thursday, 18 April 2013
12:17 PM GMT



The pathologist who carried out a post mortem on Savita Halappanavar has told an inquest into her death that she died from septic shock, associated with an E.Coli infection.

Dr Grace Callagy this morning read a report on the autopsy carried out on on the 31-year-old at 2pm on 30 October 2012 and confirmed that the cause of death was due to septic shock, in the presence of an E.Coli infection, associated with miscarraige at 17 weeks gestation and acute chorioamnionitis. She told the inquest that she had received an opinion from a UK expert on sepsis, who had agreed with her findings on the case, and said that it was most likely that the sepsis had originated from an ascending infection in the genital tract.

Her testimony was followed by a statement from expert witness Dr Peter Kelehan, retired consultant pathologist from the National Maternity Hopital in Holles Street in Dublin, who said that histology slides had shown "classic signs" of septic abortion, adding that he had only seen five cases of the condition in over 40 years and none of these patients had died.

He continued to explain that the acute chorioamnionitis referred to an inflammation of the lining of the foetal sac, commonly associated with miscarraige in the second trimester, but added that the level of infection observed in Savita's post mortem was "exceedingly rare". Dr Kelehan said that these inflammatory cells would have grown rapidly once the placenta had died and, because of this, it is important to remove the dead tissues quickly in order to stop the spread of infection. He said that acute chorioamnionitis was an "alarming situation" that required "immediate attention".

Questioning Dr Kelehan on his findings, Coroner Ciaran MacLoughlin highlighted to the jury that the cause of the septic shock appeared to be an ascending genital tract infection, resulting from the rupture of Savita's membranes, and it had not arisen from a secondary source.

The Coroner then adjourned the case to prepare his summary, which he will present to the inquest tomorrow morning.

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