TRAGIC: Sumera Haq had been eight months pregnant with her third child when she died due to medical negligence

A grieving widower has spoken of his devastation following the double heartbreak of his wife and child dying in hospital two days apart.

Kasim Butt is calling for lessons to be learned after an inquest concluded “a lack of clinical leadership” contributed to his wife’s death.

Teacher, Sumera Haq, who was eight months pregnant with the couple’s third child, was admitted to Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone, East London, complaining of severe abdominal pain and increasing shortness of breath.

Sumera was diagnosed with covid pneumonitis. Whilst initially treated on a labour ward, she was transferred to a medical ward two days later. Her condition deteriorated and she suffered a cardiac arrest.

Sumera and Kasim’s child, Ayra Butt, was delivered by caesarean section. However, she had no signs of life and despite attempts to resuscitate her, Ayra was pronounced dead shortly after birth.

Sumera received emergency treatment but her condition continued to deteriorate and she died aged 37.

Following her death Kasim, 41, instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help secure answers and support the family – including the couple’s other children aged eight and five – through an inquest into Sumera’s death.

HAPPIER TIMES: Husband Kasim Butt with wife Sumera and their other two children

An inquest at East London Coroner’s Court concluded Sumera was inappropriately transferred to a medical ward and died following a lack of clinical leadership, a lack of multi-disciplinary planning and lack of close monitoring as well as a lack of appropriate escalation in light of her deterioration before she suffered the cardiac arrest.

Husband Kasim, a delivery driver, said: “It’s almost impossible to find the words to describe the hurt and pain our family feel. The last year has been a living nightmare which I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

“Sumera was a wonderful wife and the best mum any child could ever want. She went out of her way to help others and her death at an age when she had her best years ahead of her, has been particularly difficult to come to terms with.

“Those few days and trying to come to terms with the death of Ayra, whilst Sumera was also slipping away from us is something I’m not sure I’ll ever get over.

“When I saw Ayra she was beautiful. I just held her and cried my eyes out. I’ll cherish what little but precious time I had with her.

“Being at Sumera’s bedside and holding her hand as her body shut down in front of my eyes and knowing there wasn’t anything I could do to help or save her was heart-breaking.

“I couldn’t stop thinking about our other children and how I was going to tell them their mummy wasn’t coming home.

“For nearly a year we’ve had so many questions about what happened. While the inquest and listening to the evidence has been incredibly traumatic it was something I needed to do to honour Sumera’s memory.

“I know nothing can bring Sumera back, or fill the void in our lives, but our family take some comfort in at least now having some answers to our questions. I just hope nobody else has to go through the pain we have.”

Taylor Hackett, the expert medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Kasim, said: “This is a truly tragic case in which Kasim and the rest of Sumera’s family remain traumatised by their loss.

“Understandably Kasim has had a number of concerns and questions about the events that unfolded in the lead up to his wife’s death.

“While nothing can make up for what’s happened we’re pleased to have at least been able to support the family in their search for some answers.

“It’s now vital that lessons are learned following the several concerns that the inquest has identified in Sumera’s care.

“In the meantime we’ll continue to support the family to help them try and come to terms with their loss the best they can at this distressing time.”

Sumera, who tested positive for Covid-19 in late July was admitted to Whipps Cross by ambulance on 7 August after complaining of severe abdominal pain and increasing shortness of breath. She had sought medical advice in the previous days for her symptoms.

After initially being cared for on a labour ward she was moved to a medical ward in the early hours of 9 August after her respiratory function worsened.

Observations showed that Sumera was suffering an acute kidney injury and on 11 August her level of haemoglobin – protein that carries oxygen round the body – was considered to be concerning low, the inquest was told.

In the early hours of the following morning on 12 August, 2021, her condition deteriorated, the hearing heard. At 7am she was administered blood thinners and not long after, the emergency buzzer was pressed and she required assistance from the healthcare staff. Her observations were monitored and she continued to deteriorate.

Shortly after 9am Sumera suffered a cardiac arrest. A decision was made to deliver Ayra by caesarean section at 9.30am. Sadly, Ayra was born with no signs of life, CPR was commenced. Sadly, resuscitation attempts were unsuccessful and the decision to stop the resuscitation was made at 15 minutes of age.

In the meantime, Sumera was rushed to emergency surgery. During the surgery, doctors found a haematoma – collection of clotted blood – in her abdomen, but couldn’t locate the source of the bleeding, the inquest was told. Surgeons performed a hysterectomy and Sumera was transferred to intensive care and put on a ventilator.

Sumera’s condition continued to deteriorate and she sadly died on 14 August, 2021.

The inquest found she died from multiple organ failure, abdominal bleeding, covid-19 infection and pneumonia.

Coroner Nadia Persaud recorded a narrative conclusion and found:
· The medical ward Sumera was transferred to “was not an appropriate clinical setting for her”
· There was no overall named consultant in charge of her care
· There was no full multi-disciplinary meeting and planning
· Insufficient regard was taken of her acute kidney injury
· No action was taken in response to Sumera’s concerningly low haemoglobin and persistent abdominal pain
· She was inappropriately given blood thinners on 12 August 2021
· No “adequate emergency action” was taken before she suffered a cardiac arrest