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Undetected blood-filled mass killed Newham mother two weeks after she gave birth

PUBLISHED: 14:00 28 June 2018 | UPDATED: 16:28 28 June 2018

Gertrude Akwetey died two weeks after giving birth at Queen's Hospital in Romford. Pic: Ken Mears

Gertrude Akwetey died two weeks after giving birth at Queen's Hospital in Romford. Pic: Ken Mears

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A mother from Newham died two weeks after giving birth to her third child when an undetected blood-filled mass sent blood clots to her lungs, an inquest was told.

Last week, Walthamstow Coroners’ Court heard Gertrude Akwetey suffered a cardiac arrest in Queen’s Hospital, Romford, after she underwent surgery to find out why she was suffering from severe abdominal pains.

Medics at Queen’s suspected she had a pelvic infection but the mass, which was filled with blood clots, was hidden under her uterus and was only discovered after her death.

The inquest heard the 34-year-old died on June 12 last year.

Miss Akwetey, who was born in Ghana, had given birth at the hospital on May 30 last year by emergency caesarean as her baby was breech.

She was discharged the next day, but shortly after returning home, she started to feel pain so returned to the hospital for a few hours before being let go.

However the following day she went back and doctors suspected she had an infection so gave her antibiotics to treat her high temperature and severe abdominal pains.

She was transferred between the postnatal ward and high dependency unit repeatedly, but doctors saw no signs of improvement and after two CT scans, consultants believed she may have had a pelvic collection – infected fluid lying near the uterus - and recommended an MRI scan or a laparotomy - a surgical cut into the abdomen.

The laparotomy uncovered a few small blood clots and after closing the wound Miss Akwetey deteriorated and died after going into cardiac arrest.

A post mortem showed Miss Akwetey had a 22cm long mass of soft tissue filled with blood clots which was hidden underneath her uterus.

Professor Sebastian Lucas, a pathologist from St Thomas’ Hospital who led the post mortem, said: “This was a totally unique finding. We were puzzled – this was unlike anything most of us had seen before.”

The inquest heard the position of the mass and the fact it was covered with pelvic fat, made it incredibly difficult to spot.

“An MRI might have shown up this issue, but then you’re faced with the difficult dilemma of working out how to deal with it,” Professor Lucas said.

“Trying to remove it would have resulted in torrential haemorrhage, but can you just leave it there?

“Doctors did what they could.”

Recording a narrative verdict, Coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe said: “It was likely that opening up the abdomen and pelvis sent a shower of blood clots into the system of Miss Akwetey.

“It was an incredibly reasonable decision to undertake a laparotomy to find out what was going on.

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