Second doc charged over death of Brit mum in France

The Local France
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Second doc charged over death of Brit mum in France
Photo: AFP

A second doctor has been charged in France over the death of a British mum in a maternity ward in south west France. An anaesthetist who admitted downing vodka on the night, has also been charged.


British expat Xynthia Hawke died in September 2014 shortly after giving birth to her baby boy Isaac at the Kappa Clinic near Bayonne.

An anaesthetist has admitted to being under the influence of alcohol during a botched procedure to try to relieve the young mum from the pain she was in after a successful Caesarean. 

This week it emerged that another doctor who was working at the clinic that night has been charged in relation to Hawke’s death.

The Obstetrician was charged with the offense of “non-assistance of a person whose life was in danger” relating to his actions in the clinic after the birth.

The family lawyer Philippe Courtois says that second charge “in no way reduces the responsibility for the mistakes made by the anaesthetist Dr Helga Wauters.

On the night Wauters, originally from Belgium, had administered the earlier anaesthetic for the Caesarean and then went off to have “a glass of rosé” with friends.

But Hawke, who grew up in North Petherton, Somerset, was in such great pain after the September 27th procedure at the Kappa Clinic near Bayonne in southwest France that doctors ordered a second dose for her.

When Hawke returned to administer the subsequent dose she smelled of alcohol and, by her own admission, was in a “daze.”

Wauters struggled to insert Hawke’s breathing tube during the later procedure, and as an investigation revealed, ended up placing it into the patient’s esaphogus and not her windpipe.

Unable to get enough oxygen, Hawke went into a coma and then died several days later. The baby, a boy named Isaac, survived.

When Wauters turned up for police questioning a few days later she had 2.16g/L of alcohol in her blood, while the legal limit for driving in France is 0.5g/L.

Wauters, licensed to practice since 1999, admitted she’d been drinking before the botched procedure and has since been charged with manslaughter.

"The night of the incident, I drank half a 50cl (500 ml) bottle of a mixture of vodka and water. I was not drunk, I was at 70 percent of my capacities," investigating judges quoted Wauters as saying during a recent hearing.

She added: "I need vodka so that I don't shake."



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