Mother heard daughter’s ribs crack as medics tried to save her

Melanie Sheehan Cleary and Barry Cleary with a photo of their late daughter Eve. Photo: Brendan Gleeson.

A HEARTBROKEN mother told a judge how she and her husband heard their daughter’s ribs crack as medics at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) tried to resuscitate her after she collapsed.

Eve Cleary (21) from Corbally in Limerick City, died in the early hours of July 21, 2019, two days after she fell and hurt her leg, which saw her end up in the emergency department (ED) at UHL.

Four hours after being discharged from the Limerick hospital, Ms Cleary died of a cardiac arrest due to blood clots in her lungs.

Her family are suing the HSE in the High Court for her death, as well as mental distress.

It is claimed that Ms Cleary was allowed to develop deep vein thrombosis and that an opportunity had been missed at the hospital to put her on anticoagulant medication Heparin on admission.

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The HSE accepts a formal risk assessment in relation to blood clots was not done, but has denied all other claims. The HSE, the court heard, does not accept that the failure to carry out the risk assessment was a breach of duty. It says the treatment and management of Ms Cleary was reasonable and appropriate.

Speaking of her last exchange with her daughter, Melanie Sheehan said that she told her daughter “she was the best thing that ever happened to me. I told her she was my baby. She kept trying to smile,” according to a court report published by the Sunday World.

“She took off the oxygen mask and said, ‘I am so sorry’. I think she knew what it would do to me if she died,” she said.

Ms Sheehan said that when the 21-year-old was brought back to UHL after her initial discharge, attempts were made to resuscitate her and she heard her daughter’s ribs crack.

“I asked them to stop. She had had enough. She would not have wanted that,” she said.

The parents were told Ms Cleary’s body would have to be moved to the morgue as the UHL emergency department was busy, Ms Sheehan said.

At a meeting arranged 10 days after Ms Cleary’s death with the then chief clinical director of the UL Hospitals Group, Dr Gerry Burke, Ms Sheehan said that Dr Burke told the family that “Eve was failed from the minute she walked in the UHL door”.

She said Dr Burke “apologised for the death of our daughter” on behalf of UHL.

She said that after Dr Burke retired, the new chief clinical director, Professor Brian Lenehan, also met with the family.

“I said what Dr Burke had said and he (Professor Lenehan) said it never happened. Their stance was Professor Lenehan had taken over and what Dr Burke said or had not said was irrelevant. It was devastating,’ she said.

Ms Cleary said all she ever wanted “was somebody to say they were sorry for what they did to my Eve”.

The case before Ms Justice Emily Egan continues.