Botched-op mum's years of trauma

By Carolyne Meng-Yee

Ms H still wants an apology from the doctor. Photo / Thinkstock
Ms H still wants an apology from the doctor. Photo / Thinkstock

A mother who became pregnant after an operation to tie her tubes failed has broken her silence to encourage other women to come forward.

The woman, identified in court documents only as Ms H, went as far as the Supreme Court to get a ruling that the pregnancy was a personal injury and thus covered by the Accident Compensation Corporation. She says she wants the law changed so other women don't suffer as she did.

"The main reason I fought so long is I don't want this to happen to anyone again."

In July 2004, Ms H, 42, was shocked to discover she was 20 weeks pregnant.

"I thought, 'Oh my God'. I couldn't abort because it was too late. I was 20 weeks," she said tearfully.

She was a working mum living in rural Auckland with her two daughters, now 21 and 8, from a previous relationship. "The relationship with the baby's father was not good.

We had no money. That's why I had my tubes tied."

The baby boy she had in March 2005 was adopted out.

Ms H said the physical scars from the caesarean section were a constant reminder but the emotional scars ran even deeper.

"The last seven years have been hell. This experience has traumatised me. I still can't drive. My hair started falling out. I have regular panic attacks. [The doctor] just screwed up my whole life."

Tubal ligation involves placing permanent clips on the fallopian tubes to prevent eggs from reaching the uterus for fertilisation. But in Ms H's operation, one of the clips was reportedly placed on a ligament.

Ms H said she was not told about the risk. "I know the risk is one in 300, that's fine - that's the failure [rate]. But [gynaecologist Dr Keith Allenby] did not tell me this could happen."

Dr Allenby told the NZ Herald he did not accept he placed a clip on a ligament rather than on the fallopian tube. He did not respond to calls from the Herald on Sunday.

This week, ACC was ordered by the Supreme Court to provide cover for women who had babies after failed sterilisations. The court ruled any pregnancy from an alleged negligent tubal ligation was a personal injury caused by medical misadventure.

Ms H's lawyer John Miller said a number of retrospective cases would be looked into.

ACC was unable to comment because of the complex issues involved.

- Herald on Sunday

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