An anesthesiologist has been tried on manslaughter in France accused of botching a cesarean section after drinking that left a young British mother dead.
Somerset’s Xynthia Hawke suffered catastrophic cardiac arrest after the doctor pushed a tube into her esophagus and not into her trachea, then failed to realize her mistake despite Hawke’s vomiting and cries of pain.
The baby, a boy, delivered at 10:22 p.m. on September 26, 2014, but Hawke was deprived of oxygen for several minutes and left in an irreversible coma despite paramedics’ efforts to save her. She died four days later, never having regained consciousness or seeing her child.
Helga Wauters, 53, was an anesthesiologist on call at Orthez maternity hospital in southwest France when it was decided that Hawke, 28, who wanted a natural birth, had to undergo a caesarean section of emergency. During the investigation, Wauters told police she had been drinking with friends before being called and asked to return to the clinic to help with the operation.
Later, the anesthetist was later found to have an alcohol level of 2.16 g / l, more than three times the legal limit for drinking and driving in France.
She admitted to having a “pathological problem with alcohol” and carried a bottle of vodka and water in her pocket. She admitted she had been drinking before being called to the hospital to numb Hawke, but insisted she was “not drunk”.
“I was 70% capable,” she told investigators. She also blamed the tragedy on faulty operating room equipment and other staff.
Investigators found that Wauters, a Belgian national, had been admitted to drug rehab for alcohol addiction at least twice in the past. After treatment for drug addiction, she resigned from her job in Belgium; she was subsequently dismissed from another medical post for “serious misconduct” allegedly linked to alcohol consumption.
Wauters was hired by a French recruitment agency to work at Orthez hospital just two weeks before Hawke’s death, but no checks were apparently made of his references and his new employers knew nothing of his problems alcohol.
In July 2015, 10 months after the tragedy while awaiting trial, Wauters was arrested for drinking and driving. She told police that she regularly drank several drinks of alcohol each day.
Hawke’s partner Yannick Balthazar, the father of his son, his sister Iris, 36, and his parents, Fraser and Clare, are at the two-day hearing in Pau, southwestern France.
The maternity ward and a gynecologist were originally indicted for Hawke’s death, but the charges against them were dropped.
“My sister’s life was handed over to an anesthesiologist who was not in a position to work in a hospital or monitor anyone’s life,” Iris Hawke told The Guardian two years ago.
“Xynthia was a sister, a daughter, a girlfriend, she was a lot of fun and a really amazing person. She should never have been in this situation in a hospital. No one should. “
Wauters faces a maximum prison term of three years and a fine of up to € 75,000 (£ 68,000) if convicted of manslaughter. His original defense team was led by Did you mean: Eric Dupond-Moretti, one of France’s best-known lawyers, who was forced to turn the case over to a colleague after being appointed Minister of Justice in July.