Patient died after heart valve inserted upside down

Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has admitted the error that caused the death of grandmother Sheila Hynes.

A woman died after a heart valve was put in upside down during surgery.

Sheila Hynes suffered massive internal bleeding during what should have been a routine operation at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne.

The 71-year-old grandmother and great-grandmother never came round from the operation – led by consultant surgeon Asif Raza Shah – after the mistake caused irreversible damage to her heart.

A second operation to try to get her heart working failed and she died in intensive care a week later.

Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Freeman, has admitted that the error caused Mrs Hynes’ death. Mr Shah still works at the trust.

Her daughter, Jan Hopper, 55, from Haltwhistle, Northumberland, said the family have been left distraught.

Jan Hopper, Elaine Wheeler and Julie Jenkins, the daughters and granddaughter of Sheila Hynes, have been left distraught by the death
Jan Hopper, Elaine Wheeler and Julie Jenkins, the daughters and granddaughter of Sheila Hynes, have been left distraught by the death (Adrian Don/Handout/PA)

 

Speaking to the Press Association, she said: “My life has been destroyed by what happened to my mother.

“She was a very active woman and loved nothing more than going on holiday. The week before her operation we had been in Tenerife as her sister Carol had just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

“It was a bittersweet time and mum had wanted to get her own operation over with so she could care for her sister. Nothing was more important to my mum than family and she loved spending time with all of us. She was the heart of our family.”

Sheila Hynes wanted her own operation over with so she could care for her sister, who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer
Sheila Hynes wanted her own operation over with so she could care for her sister, who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer (PA)

 

An inquest into the death, which occurred in April 2015, has now been scheduled for later this year.

The last time Mrs Hopper – who has two siblings, Julie Jenkins, 52, and John Erskine, 48 – spoke to her mother was the morning of March 26 – the day of the operation.

Mrs Hynes, a widow with seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, had undergone the surgery to try and improve her breathing, which was being hampered by inadequate blood flow.

An anaesthetist who had been in theatre told the family there had been a lot of bleeding.

Sheila Hynes suffered massive internal bleeding during what should have been a routine operation
Sheila Hynes suffered massive internal bleeding during what should have been a routine operation (Family Handout/PA)

 

Mrs Hynes’ condition deteriorated and she needed specialist life support in the form of extra corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) for her heart and lungs. She never regained consciousness and died on April 2. The hospital then admitted the error.

Mrs Hopper said: “We were told that putting the heart valve on the wrong way had caused her heart to balloon up and expand, and then when it contracted the wall of her heart was pierced on an instrument. We still haven’t come to terms with what happened. It’s been traumatic.”

The family have begun legal action with the help of Hudgell Solicitors, partly motivated by one caring nurse who told them to leave “no stone unturned”.

The trust has admitted full breach of duty, and that the error which caused Mrs Hynes’ death was the insertion of the heart valve the wrong way.

A trust statement said: “Our thoughts are with Mrs Hynes’ family at this difficult time and we would like again to offer our sincere condolences to them. Sadly, when providing complex treatment there may be rare occasions when something unexpected happens, and in those circumstances we always carry out an in-depth investigation and we have done so in this case.”