Woman deprived of ability to have her own children

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A Strabane woman who had to undergo an emergency hysterectomy after Altnagelvin Hospital failed to diagnose and treat a molar pregnancy, has been awarded £160,000 compensation.

Joanne Connolly (35), was left unable to have children as a result of the hospital’s handling of her condition. Mrs Connolly was awarded the damages in a High Court settlement following her medical negligence claim against the Western Health and Social Care Trust.

Her solicitors said the Trust admitted failing to have a policy in place for dealing with the condition and that this led to her having an emergency hysterectomy.

Mrs Connolly, a radiographer at Altnagelvin Hospital, went to the hospital’s casualty department in May 2002 as she was concerned about her first pregnancy.

Despite further attendances, the diagnosis of a molar pregnancy was not immediately established.

Mrs Connolly’s lawyers claimed the absence of a management policy for a molar pregnancy led to a delay in treating the life-threatening condition. A month later, Mrs Connolly had to undergo a hysterectomy.

Mrs Connolly’s lawyers said the Trust denied liability for nine years before finally admitting their negligence last month.

Commenting on the case, Mrs Connolly said: “I continue to feel let down by my initial treatment at Altnagelvin Hospital and the subsequent way in which the Trust conducted the legal proceedings.

“I regard the settlement as a clear acknowledgement of failings on the part of the hospital and doctors involved.

“No amount of money can compensate for what happened to me, depriving me of the ability to ever have my own children. I hope that following my case, a policy is now in place and that no-one else has to suffer as I have done.”

A molar pregnancy is caused by an error in the transfer of genetic information between the sperm and egg during fertilisation.

This results in the egg developing into what is called a hydatidiform mole instead of a normal foetus. This mole has the potential to develop into a tumour. Up to three in every 10,000 pregnancies are molar and the risk rises substantially as a woman gets older.