No post mortem after heart taken

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A HOSPITAL failed to check if a post mortem was needed before removing a woman’s heart for donation, an inquest has heard.

Christine Markiewicz, from Todmorden, died following a heart attack caused by pneumonia, a month after surgery at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, on March 9, 2011.

It was left to a junior doctor to approach her family and ask about donating Ms Markiewicz’s organs - they did agree unaware that a post mortem may have been needed.

However, staff at the hospital failed to consult with the Coroner over her death which the Coroner’s Office said should definitely have been referred.

Consequently the 52-year-old’s heart was removed before any post mortem could take place.

A Coroner’s Court head that Ms Mariewicz had been admitted to the Huddersfield hospital after a fall in February last year.

She slipped on to a kerb and broke her hip and surgery was required to repair the injured joint.

The surgery was successful and despite a slower than expected recovery she was described as stable.

Almost a month later her family was preparing for her to return to Calderdale Royal Hospital to continue her rehabilitation.

However on March 8 she collapsed in the hospital having suffered a cardiac arrest and died the next day.

A pathologist did carry out a post mortem and, despite noting that the heart was unavailable for examination, found that bronchial pneumonia was the cause of death.

Dr Peter Hall, consultant at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, said he was surprised by the result of that post mortem.

“Diabetes may have compromised her immunity,” he said. “Organ donation was not discussed with the Coroner’s Office.”

Coroner, Professor Paul Marks, said: “I am going to record a narrative verdict on this case.

“Christine was a long standing insulin dependent diabetic. She successfully underwent surgical treatment but unexpectedly deteriorated on March 8.

“She died on March 9 from bronchial pneumonia.”