A Donegal woman who had regular smear tests as part of the CervicalCheck programme was diagnosed with stage two cancer in Belfast just nine months after believing that she got the all-clear in the Republic.
Miriam O’Brien (34), a single mother-of-one from Buncrana, died on August 25, 2013, having been given a terminal prognosis six months before.
In the weeks before she died, she told her family: “If anything happens to me, tell the world what they did.”
Her family have grave concerns over the care she received up until the time she transferred her care to the North, and are asking the health authorities to clarify if Ms O’Brien is included in the official figures of the 18 women who died after smear tests were misread.
Ms O’Brien’s sisters, Danielle Miley and Susan O’Brien, together with her daughter, Rachael O’Brien (19), are taking legal action against the HSE and labs used by CervicalCheck, through solicitor Pat McMyler, of PA Dorrian.
One of the defendants is Letterkenny General Hospital and its laboratories, as providers of the CervicalCheck programme, with other defendants being outsourced labs in the US.
The case was initiated originally by Ms O’Brien herself, after the Belfast doctor made her aware of alleged failures in her treatment in the Republic.
Ms MIley told independent.ie “She knew she was wronged and we are now carrying on her wish that her story be told.
“She felt it shouldn’t be happening to her because she’d done everything right. She had all of the tests, they all came back clear and she never missed an appointment – how was it missed?
“We don’t even know if she is part of the CervicalCheck review or is it because she was diagnosed and died in the North, they may be discounting her and if so, that’s not right because all her smears were done here.”
The family described how Ms O’Brien had a smear that came back as giving no cause for alarm in June 2011 but in November/December, presented with symptoms to her GP and was referred to the cancer specialist.
“She was extremely unwell,” said Susan, explaining that her sister’s symptoms had included severe pain to the extent that she was unable to stand, along with heavy bleeding.
In March 2012 she switched to cancer care in the North because she worked across the Border and within three to four weeks of being treated within the NHS system, was diagnosed with stage 2B cervical cancer.Tags: