No, I Have No Regrets, Says Surgeon Who Wrongly Told This Mother Her Unborn Son Was Dead; Consultant Is Linked to Major Negligence Cases Involving Childbirth

Article excerpt

Byline: Valerie Hanley

THE CONSULTANT who wrongly told an expectant mother that her unborn child was dead has defended his handling of her case, insisting he has 'no regrets' about how he did his job.

Galway-based gynaecologist Dr Declan Egan refused to apologise for almost killing Aaron O'Neill Brennan in the womb when he wrongly told Aaron's mother, Martha O'Neill Brennan, that her pregnancy had ended in miscarriage.

He told the Irish Mail on Sunday: 'I've done thousands of scans and anyone sitting in the room would have made the same decision.' The consultant was named publicly as having told a patient that her foetus was dead and recommending a D&C operation - only for it to turn out that the unborn child was alive and well.

In 2006, Dr Egan told Mrs O'Neill Brennan, who came to him for a scan eight weeks into her pregnancy after continued bleeding, that her pregnancy had ended. He told her: 'There's no heartbeat there, it's empty, empty... There are bits and bobs there that need to come out or you'll continue to bleed.' Dr Egan suggested performing an immediate D&C - effectively aborting the foetus and cleaning out Mrs O'Neill Brennan's womb.

However, the operation didn't go ahead immediately because Mrs O'Neill Brennan had no babysitter for her other children. When she returned for the procedure later, she insisted on a second scan as she felt she was still pregnant - despite a nurse attempting to persuade her not to. That second scan, however, showed that the baby was alive and well.

Since Mrs O'Neill Brennan and Donabate mother Melissa Redmond came forward last week, at least 10 more mothers around the country have revealed that they were told their pregnancies had ended - only to then find that the diagnosis was wrong.

And it has happened at a number of different hospitals.

It has also emerged that, contrary to best practice, most Irish hospitals do not do a second scan. In the case of Mrs O'Neill Brennan, she said the nurse who booked her in was against another scan.

She said last week: 'When I went in the next morning into admissions, I just said to the nurse, "I know it's probably not going to change anything but there's something in my head that's telling me I still feel pregnant - could I have a second scan?" So she said, "Sure, we'll see what we can do".

'But then when I got up to the ward it was a different scenario, they weren't really interested in the second scan - basically they told me it's not going to change anything. …