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A pregnant woman and her baby died after trainee doctors removed her ovary by mistake

View profile for Judith Thomas-Whittingham
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A heavily pregnant woman with appendicitis died on the operating table after two unsupervised junior surgeons had removed one of her ovaries by mistake.

Maria De Jesus, 32, was admitted for surgery at Queen's Hospital in Romford, Essex to have her appendix removed. As she was heavily pregnant, the junior surgeons had to 'feel' for the organ and removed one of her ovaries instead.

Mrs De Jesus was discharged from the hospital eight days after the surgery, but had to re-admit herself six days later as she was suffering from crippling stomach pains. She then miscarried her baby two days after she returned to hospital, on the same day that doctors looked at a report which confirmed the trainees' mistake.

Her condition failed to improve after 100 mls of septic fluid was drained from her abdomen, and she died whilst on the operating table during a second procedure to remove her infected appendix.

At the inquest it was reported that Mrs De Jesus had developed severe sepsis as a result of the appendicitis, and she died from multiple organ failure. The coroner, Chinyere Inyama, said a 'lost window of opportunity' could have prevented Mrs De Jesus' death.

Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospital Trust has admitted liability for her death which occurred in November 2011, and the trust's chief executive has released a statement to say that a trust-wide action plan has now been implemented following the death of Mrs De Jesus to ensure that such a tragic accident cannot happen again.

The chief executive of the trust has also issued an apology to her family. However, Mrs De Jesus' husband has indicated that he will be taking legal action against the hospital trust.

The General Medical Council is currently investigating eight medical staff at Queen's Hospital over the death.

A narrative verdict was recorded by the coroner.

By Caroline Guy