A beloved mum has died just days after years of awaiting heart surgery.
Carlene Kershaw had spent two years waiting for crucial surgery to help with a leaking heart valve before she finally had it.
But immediately after, the 40-year-old from Hemel Hempstead tragically died after a blood clot formed.
After her operation was repeatedly delayed before it finally took place in 2021, she said she felt she was “not taken seriously” by her GP or the NHS.
An inquest has found her untimely death was the ‘terrible result’ of a number of complications that arose after the four-hour operation she underwent at Hammersmith Hospital last year.
Coroner Lydia Brown led the inquest into the death.
My London/BPM MEDIA)
Carlene, who had worked as a probation officer for most of her career, first reported shortness of breath in August 2019 and then began to suffer from vomiting, headaches and chest tightness.
She would not have heart surgery until almost two years later, and although the operation seemed positive at first, her condition quickly deteriorated.
Talk to MyLondon her brother Mark Coffey said his sister “didn’t expect to die” and joked with her mother before the operation.
He said: “She had just bought this house in Liverpool to start a new life, she never got to live in this house.
“It’s incredibly awful and she just didn’t deserve this, and neither did her kids. Now they don’t have their mother, there’s been huge disruption around a lot of things, it’s been terrible. “
The court heard that after her first appointment in August, she returned two months later to the outpatient clinic at Watford Hospital where it was found that she had a leaking heart valve.
“Following investigations it was identified in October that she had moderate mitral valve regurgitation and mild aortic valve regurgitation, these were found to be congenital difficulties which do not had previously caused him no symptoms,” Brown said.
The case was referred to a multidisciplinary meeting and as she did not have serious valve disease, there were discussions about having a TOE procedure performed.
It would be an echocardiogram through a telescope that was placed in Carlene’s esophagus to look at her heart chambers.
However, due to difficulty swallowing, she became “restless and restless” and the attempt was aborted.
It was agreed that a follow-up appointment would take place in New Years, but during his deposition consultant cardiologist Dr Niall Keenan said: “None of us knew in October 2019 that we were about to to embark on the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The hospital canceled all operations and procedures as the cardiology team was redeployed to help treat coronavirus patients.
He told the West London Coroners Court inquest it had been ‘very difficult’ to arrange the echocardiogram during this time for Carlene.
After months of delays, Carlene requested a transfer to Hammersmith Hospital to be cared for by Dr Bellamy as her case was increasingly “sidelined” due to the ongoing pandemic.
In testimony, Professor Punjabi, a consultant cardiothoracic surgeon, said he conducted a face-to-face interview with Carlee, explaining the risks of the operation.
According to UK statistics of all age groups, there is a one in 20 chance of death, but Carlene’s family said they had received “numerous assurances” that the operation was a routine procedure.
“Surgery was the only real option for Carlene, and if it wasn’t done quickly enough, she was at risk of further deterioration,” Ms Brown continued.
After arriving at the hospital for the operation on June 3, 2021, she was taken to the theater, only to be told at the last minute that there were no beds available and that she had to wait four days, an experience her brother said was “traumatic”.
The four-hour procedure finally took place on June 7 and was initially thought to have been successful.
Professor Punjabi said she was ‘stable and stable’ afterwards, and all signs pointed to an ‘excellent operation’, meaning she was extubated that evening.
However, overnight her position deteriorated and she was intubated, continuously checked by the intensive care unit and found to have difficulty breathing.
Over the next few days she needed help with her blood pressure, antibiotics and suffered “severe deterioration” on June 11.
Investigations showed that she had recently developed a coronary clot, which had to be surgically removed.
Following this emergency procedure, resuscitation efforts were tragically unsuccessful and she was pronounced dead.
Mark told MyLondon: “She had every possible scenario, bearing in mind that she was 4ft 10, she was a short woman and had to fight through it all.
“She actually spoke to my mum quite soon after the operation, but very, very briefly and never came back.
“I mean, it was horrible, when she came into the hospital, she joked with my mom about not being so morbid about not coming back, and she never did. It was incredibly traumatic for us.”
Carlene’s mother Sandra told the inquest she was wrongly told her daughter had undergone the 10-hour surgery and was ‘really shocked’ by the swelling caused by the condition of Carlene.
Professor Punjabi told the inquest she had been ‘constantly monitored’ and any signs of sepsis or a blood clot would have been noticed immediately had it happened sooner.
Ms Brown said: “It was a combination of events that really conspired against her to take her life.”
In a statement read aloud by the coroner, her family said: ‘Carlene was a very caring and loving person and parent who put her children first, a daughter and a son.
“Carlene was a much loved daughter, sister and aunt, she was one of four siblings to her mother Sandra. She was a much loved probation officer, working in the probation service with high risk offenders , trying to readjust them.
“She has worked in this field for her entire career – she has always tried to see the good in people, which has made this profession a perfect match for her.
“She graduated from college with two degrees, she was smart, sensitive and thoughtful. She was a strong, independent woman who loved life, spending time with her family and friends.”
Closing the inquest, Ms Brown said: ‘It is difficult to give an abbreviated conclusion such as natural causes, this is not a death from natural causes, it is unfortunately caused by this surgery of course totally undesirable.
“This is not an accidental death, there is nothing accidental about the planning or the technical skill of this procedure.
“So I’m going to deliver a conclusion, known as a short narrative conclusion to try to capture those elements. That this death was due to recognized complications of necessary surgical interventions.”
If you would like to donate to Carlene’s family, the GoFundMe link is here .