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Couple at centre of Holles Street abortion case 'utterly, utterly devastated'

An external review is due to be carried out into the circumstances around the abortion.

File photo of Holles Street hospital.
File photo of Holles Street hospital.
Image: Joe Dunne/Photocall Ireland!

THE COUPLE AT the centre of case involving an abortion at the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street are “mentally and physically devastated”, according to the solicitor representing them.

An external review is due to be carried out into the circumstances around the abortion, which concerns a couple who earlier this year were told their baby had a fatal foetal abnormality. 

It is understood that an abortion was then carried out at over 15 weeks. 

It was thought the baby had Trisomy18, also known as Edwards Syndrome, but a series of genetic tests later found that that was not the case. 

The parents sought an external investigation and the hospital has now decided to set up an external review, RTÉ reported yesterday.

Speaking to RTÉ yesterday on behalf of the family, solicitor Caoimhe Haughey said the family were devastated by what had happened. 

“This couple are utterly, utterly mentally and physically devastated,” Haughey said. 

Their loss and their sense of grief is interminable. What has happened to them is incomparable. What they want now is honest answers.  

Speaking later to Virgin Media News, Haughey said that the couple were already “in a deep state of grief and undergoing a process grieving” when they found out about the misdiagnosis.

“They did not go into this clinic or into this hospital with a view to having a termination,” she said.  

“They went into this hospital to find out how well their pregnancy was going. Were mom’s dates right, that kind of thing.

But this led them down a path when suddenly they’re talking about termination. They never brought up the word termination.

 Test

In a statement yesterday, Holles Street  said they couldn’t comment on individual cases but that a review is to be carried out.

“We can confirm that we have asked the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to conduct an independent review of a recent case at the hospital,” they said. 

However, in a statement issued in the wake of the initial reports of the case a spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said:

“We can confirm the RCOG has not yet received a formal approach to undertake this review. Should an approach be forthcoming, this will be considered in the usual way.”

It’s understood the National Maternity Hospital is now attempting to clarify the situation with the UK-based body. 

Speaking on Today with Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio 1 yesterday, the Master of the Rotunda maternity hospital Fergal Malone said he could not comment on the individual case but explained that early screening tests are carried out by a blood test and an ultrasound.

If there is a query about these initial tests, then a diagnosis is sought through two different tests: a Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) test or amniocentesis.

The CVS test uses placental cells while amniocentesis is carried out directly on the foetus.

Prof Malone explained that there can occasionally be different genetic readings between the placenta and the foetus.

The CVS test should always be interpreted in conjunction with an ultrasound, he said. 

“When the CVS test is taken, two different samples are sent. One for a rapid result which comes back within 48 hours and the other which can take up to two weeks and it is 100%,” Malone said.

The rapid test can give a false positive.

That’s why it is necessary to look at the total picture. If there is no ultrasound abnormality most laboratories recommend to wait for the full two weeks. 

With reporting from Conor McCrave 

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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