Second doc charged over death of Brit mum in France

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.

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

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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France investigates spike in babies born with arm defects

France's health minister on Sunday announced a new investigation into the births of several babies with upper limb defects in various parts of the country in recent years, saying it was "unacceptable" no cause had been found.

France investigates spike in babies born with arm defects
Photo: Depositphotos
Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said she and her environment counterpart Francois de Rugy had decided to look more closely at what caused 14 babies to be born with stunted or missing arms since 2007, two weeks after health authorities said they had failed to find an explanation.
The cases have been concentrated in three French “departments” or administrative areas: Ain near the Swiss border, which had seven cases between 2009 and 2014; Brittany on the West coast which had four cases between 2011 and 2013; and Loire-Atlantique, south of Brittany, which had three cases in 2007-2008.
In an October 4 report France's public health agency said that while the number of cases in the Ain area was not above the national average, the numbers in Brittany and Loire-Atlantique were statistically “excessive”. But it said it found no “common exposure” to substances that could explain them.
Fewer than 150 babies are born each year in France with upper limb defects, which occur when part of, or the entire arm, fails to form completely during pregnancy. While the cause of the defects is unknown, research has shown that exposure of the mother to certain chemicals or medication during the pregnancy can increase the risk.
Buzyn told LCI channel that environmental experts would now join health experts in investigating the cases to try to shed light on the phenomenon.
“We cannot content ourselves with saying we didn't find the case, that's unacceptable,” she said.
In the 1950s and 1960s, thousands of babies around the world were born with missing or stunted limbs linked to the use of the drug thalidomide, which was used to treat nausea in pregnant women. It was banned in the 1960s.