Mum and baby son die after she collapses on top of him from epileptic seizure

A mum and her newborn baby died within 33 hours of each other after she suffered an epileptic seizure and collapsed on him, an inquest has heard.

Mum-of-three Marie Downey died on her husband's birthday at Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) on March 25 2019.

Her husband, Kieran, was due to pick his wife and their four-day-old son up from the hospital when he was asked to come in to be told she had died. Their baby son, Darragh, died the next day.

Cork Coroner's Court determined that Marie had suffered an epileptic seizure in her private hospital room, and as a result falling out of bed and trapping her newborn baby under her, Cork Live reports.

The inquest heard from perinatal pathologist Dr Peter Kelehan who gave evidence that Darragh’s life could possibly have been saved if a member of staff had found the mother and baby within around four minutes of the tragedy occurring.

A jury recorded a verdict of medical misadventure in the case. Reacting to the verdict widower Kieran Downey said the Health Service Executive [HSE] was “chaotic” and needed to make huge changes.

Mr Downey added that his wife and son deserved more than the HSE getting involved in a ticking of the box exercise with no real concrete changes.

He said: “There doesn’t even seem like there is a system. It is chaotic from the get go. Everything that was discussed during the last three days proves the system [doesn't work]. There doesn't even seem like there is a system.”

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Mr Downey said: “Yes [it could happen again]. It happened to Marie. I have no faith in the systems as they are and based on what we have heard it takes a long long time for anything to be implemented. The HSE is a big organisation but there is people working there.

"The blame is often with the HSE — the letters. But people are responsible for making decisions and implementing them. And that is from the top all the way down."

Mr Downey vowed to keep the pressure on the HSE to improve maternal care. However, he said he would like some private time following this very public and harrowing inquest.

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He said: “For my family and for Marie's family we would like some privacy to be able to consume what we have heard and try to move on as best we can.”

The inquest heard that baby Darragh died of multi organ failure as a consequence of compression asphyxia whilst Marie sustained an upper cervical cord injury following a fall which occurred after she had an epileptic seizure.

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