A WOMAN who turned to gastric surgery in a bid to slim down was killed by a rare complication “feared” by doctors.
Kathleen Mitchell, 64, died just two weeks after undergoing surgery at the Spire Fylde Coast Hospital in Blackpool.
Robert McAdam, lead bariatric surgeon, said during the 500 bariatric procedures he had performed he had never had a patient’s bowel leak after undergoing a gastric bypass – the rare complication which Mrs Mitchell suffered.
At an inquest, Mr McAdam said it was a “devastating consequence” of the surgery and something “surgeons feared”.
The mum-of-three, who lived on Oregon Avenue in Layton, had been referred to the Spire Hospital after obtaining NHS funding for her surgery and opted for the riskier gastric bypass operation because she feared she would “cheat” if she had a gastric band fitted.
With a body mass index of 48, she was classed as “super obese”, and had health complications including hyper-tension, angina and arthritis.
But Mr McAdam said she had passed all the pre-operative health checks and given her consent for the procedure in August last year.
Giving evidence at Blackpool Town Hall, he said: “Kathleen was fit for surgery for the initial operation.
“We work very carefully and we try to predict and prevent complications but leaks are unpredictable. I have done probably 500 cases and I’ve never had a leak before.”
During the initial surgery, blue dye injected into the bowel showed a small leak which was secured with stitches. Mr McAdam said there were no leaks when Mrs Mitchell left theatre.
At first Mrs Mitchell made a good recovery and was allowed home. But the following day, she went to Blackpool Victoria Hospital after she began vomiting blood.
She was assessed by Jonathan Heath – who was wrongly told by Mrs Mitchell she had had a gastric band procedure – and had undergone a CT scan, before Mr Heath spoke to Mr McAdam and agreed she should be transferred to the Spire.
But when she arrived at the St Walburga’s Road hospital it was obvious she had deteriorated and Mrs Mitchell was taken back to The Vic.
A leak was identified and drained, and Mr McAdam said he was “cautiously optimistic” she would recover.
But she deteriorated again and despite further treatment she died on August 16 – 15 days after the initial surgery.
Blackpool’s deputy coroner Christopher Beverley said the doctors had not neglected Mrs Mitchell and recorded a verdict of misadventure.
Her son, Raymond, said while hearing from all the doctor’s involved in his mother’s care had provided some “closure”, the family would always wonder what would have happened if she had been treated quicker when she first began to feel ill.
Mr Mitchell said: “She signed all the consent forms and I’m sure they did everything they could for her once she was in hospital, but it seems to have taken a long time to get to that point on the Sunday evening.”