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HSE apologises to family of pregnant woman kept on life support due to Eighth Amendment concerns

Natasha Perie was declared dead on 3 December but was kept on life support for four weeks.

Image: Shutterstock/Semmick Photo

THE HSE AND Regional Hospital Mullingar have apologised to the family of Natasha Perie, a pregnant woman who was kept on life support against the wishes of her family because of concerns about the Eighth Amendment in 2014, RTÉ has reported. 

Perie was a 26-year-old pregnant woman who died as a result of a ruptured brain cyst that had gone undetected. She was declared dead on 3 December 2014 when she was 15 weeks pregnant and doctors said they needed legal clarification on what actions were legally allowed in the circumstance.

At the time, the Eighth Amendment legally enshrined the right of the unborn child as equal to that of the pregnant woman. 

Her father Peter Perie gave a statement outside the High Court today.

“Sadly, Natasha never came home. She died as a result of a large ruptured [cyst] that went undiagnosed whilst in hospital. What followed was nothing short of a nightmare,” he said.  

This is our third encounter with the legal system. Five years ago, we fought to have somatic care withdrawn to allow my daughter and her unborn baby a dignified funeral and burial. 

“Instead, we faced Christmas day and St Stephen’s day in court. Now, for Natasha’s two children, Hannah and Keelan, Christmas is forever associated with the loss of their beloved mum.”

The woman was kept on life support for four weeks before the High Court ruled on 26 December 2014 that Perie’s life support could be removed at the discretion of her medical team. 

The court was told there was “no reasonable” prospect the baby would be born alive.

In the High Court today, RTÉ reports that Perie’s 11-year-old daughter had been brought to see her mother while she was on life support and had been deeply distressed by the death. A settlement of €150,000 was approved by Mr Justice Kevin Cross for the daughter.  

Commenting on the case, consultant obstetrician and former master of Holles Street Hospital Peter Boylan told TheJournal.ie that he believes the responsibility lies with those who brought in the Eighth Amendment in the first place. Boylan gave evidence in the 2014 case.

“I hope it’s provided some degree of closure to the family,” said Boylan. “It was a crystal illustration of the difficulties that the Eighth Amendment caused to doctors.” 

With reporting by Aoife Barry. 

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