An inquest has found that a mother of five suffered from “gross neglect” after having an abortion, which led to sepsis and death. Sarah Dunn, 31, died in April of 2020 and had begged for help numerous times before finally being sent to the hospital — but by then, it was too late.
According to The Times, Dunn’s death was such a blatant example of neglect that the coroner wrote to Health Secretary Sajid Javid, saying there is a “lack of knowledge in the health service” on how to spot and treat infection after an abortion.
The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch carried out an investigation, which found that there were problems from the very start. Dunn’s abortion, committed at Elizabeth Street Surgery, was not “adequately supervised” when it took place on March 23, 2020. She was seven weeks pregnant. Afterward, she experienced heavy vaginal bleeding, nausea, sweating, and pain, and repeatedly asked for care. While it is unclear who committed the abortion, Dunn’s general practitioner, Sanjeev Maharaj, told her that she “looked well,” and did not refer her to the hospital.
The day before she died, Dunn spoke with pharmacist Anthony Lynn, again complaining of abdominal pain, sweating, and nausea, but these symptoms were brushed off as withdrawal symptoms from painkillers following a broken wrist.
Dunn further called the NHS 111 service and told Dr. Nishan Karunasekara she hadn’t been able to eat in five days. She complained that she had never felt so ill, and was having severe limb pain. Karunasekara told her to take painkillers.
On April 10th, Dunn was taken to the hospital, where she began having seizures before experiencing multiple organ failure. Her cause of death was determined to be “Group A streptococcus sepsis following termination of pregnancy,” which coroner Andrew Cousins said could have been detected and treated if medical staff had only conducted the testing necessary. Marie Dunn, Dunn’s mother, told The Times that medical staff have “failed to either accept the part they played in her death or even offer condolences.”
“I have been reliving the nightmare of Friday 10th April for 18 months and no doubt will relive this for the rest of my life. I couldn’t be with my daughter when she needed me and this haunts me because I can only imagine how she suffered and what pain and fear she must have felt,” Dunn continued. “She was at her most vulnerable and had nobody she knew or loved with her or to speak up for her. I know how much she would have wanted me there as she needed me to be with her at the births of all of her children and I was. I used to speak to Sarah every day, sometimes three or four times a day and I don’t have that anymore. Nor do I have Mother’s Days or Christmas Day or special family occasions with her. I cannot find the words to explain how her death has affected my own life and the impact it has had on me as a person. I just know that I am not the person I was before.”
Dr. Alison Armor told the Daily Mail that the bacteria would have entered Dunn’s uterus during the abortion, as inflammation was found in her vaginal tract and womb.
“A streptococcal infection, when it becomes invasive, is a rapid and overwhelming infection,” she said. “Prior to it becoming invasive, it can cause general symptoms of feeling unwell, maybe a high temperature or low temperature. But when it becomes invasive, it is a life-threatening condition. I have seen a number of cases of pregnant women who have died after the birth of their babies due to group A streptococcus. It’s an unusual but well-known complication associated with pregnancy and can be contracted during or after childbirth, and it has also been documented following termination of pregnancy.”
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