News Ireland daily BLOG update by Donie

Tuesday 3rd December 2013

HSE apologises to family of young Sligo mum who died eight days after giving birth


Dhara and Michael Kivlehan above left in happier times. Mrs Kivlehan’s family has been awarded almost €1m in damages from health chiefs. Dhara, 28, died from multi-organ failure in Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital in September 2010

The HSE has agreed to pay almost €800,000 and has unreservedly apologised before the High Court to the family of a 29-year-old woman who became seriously ill when in Sligo General Hospital for delivery of her first child and died eight days later.

“The HSE confirms that lessons have been learned from the tragic outcome in Dhara Kivlehan’s case,” it also said.

The payment and apology are part of the settlement of an action brought by the family of Ms Kivhelan, nee Sandhu, a native of Indida, who died on September 28th 2010.  The HSE admitted liability in the matter last week.

The settlement was ruled today by Ms Justice Mary Irvine who said this was the third case before her within the last two weeks where a defendant had “held out almost to the bitter end” before admitting liability.  This was “very regrettable” and caused enormous distress to a family, she said.

She expressed sympathy to Ms Kivlehan’s husband, Michael, and his parents, who are helping him rear the couple’s child, who were all in court.

Earlier, Adrienne Egan SC, for the HSE, said it unreservedly apologised for the shortcomings in relation to the management and care of Ms Kivlehan at Sligo General Hospital and wished to express its sincere condolences to Mr Kivlehan, his family and his wife’s family in India.

Ms Kivlehan is survived by her husband and son Dior, now aged three, and her parents and three siblings in India. The couple met in London, where Ms Kivlehan had come to in 2002 study  fashion design and textiles. They married in 2005 and came to live in Ireland.

Outside court, Mr Kivlehan thanked his lawyers Callan Tansey for their work in achieving the settlement but added: “Our battle for justice must continue: three years on from Dhara’s death, we still await an inquest.”  The family were heartbroken their calls for an inquest here have, to date, been declined as “many unanswered questions need to be addressed”, he said.

“Dhar’s memory deserves an inquest and it is an ongoing breach of our family’s human rights for our calls for justce to remain unheeded.”

Ms Kivlehan was admitted to Sligo General Hospital on September 20th 2010 for the delivery of her first child, Dior.  She was two weeks past her due date, her counsel Des O’Neill SC said, and when admitted was showing signs consistent with pre-eclampsia.

It was claimed, when admitted, she presented with a history of painless contractions for two days and, on examination, had evidence of oedema of the lower limbs and slightly elevated blood pressure.

It was also claimed that blood tests performed on the afternoon of that same day established Ms Kivlehan had grossly abnormal liver and kidney function but that the results of those tests were not communicated to her doctors until some 12 hours later.

In the interim, she was transferred to the delivery ward and her son Dior was born healthy at 5.56am. Ms Kivlehan was then transferred to a side room off the maternity ward where she remained until 16.45pm the next day when she was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit.

It was claimed, while she was receiving treatment in that side room, it was not adequate or suitable and she should have been moved to the ICU and appropriately treated much earlier. It was clear to her husband and family her condition was deteriorating and they had sought earlier transfer to the ICU, it was claimed.

She remained in the ICU until about 11pm that night when she was airlifted to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast where, despite intensive intervention,  she died four days later of multi-organ failure consequent on HELLP syndrome, a severe variation of pre-eclampsia.

Lawyers for Ms Kivlehan’s family alleged, had the action proceeded to hearing, they would have called doctors to give evidence suggesting, while HELLP Syndrome is a severre and life threatneing condition, it has a mortality rate of less than 1 per cent in the developed world if appropriately treated.

In their claim, the family alleged the delivery of Ms Kivlehan’s child was negligently delayed and inadequate urgency and speciality was applied to her case.

The decision to transfer her to the Roval Vctopri Hospital in Belfast was “too little, too late”, it was alleged. The family accepted everything possible was done for her in the Belfast hospital but alleged her treatment at Sligo General Hospital was “in marked contrast”, the lawyers added.

There was a failure at the Sligo Hospital to appreciate the significance and severity of her worsening condition and either treat her appropriately there or transfer her to a more appropriate tertiary centre fort the necessary intensive care, it was alleged.

It is understood a separate case by Mr Kivlehan for nervous shock was settled for an undisclosed sum.

November sees increase in revenue for Ireland’s Exchequer


Last November saw a surge in revenues for the Exchequer after stamp duty, income tax and VAT payments all shot up last month, according to the latest Exchequer figures published today.

Last month’s strong performance more than made up for weak tax takes earlier in the year and add to the mounting evidence that the economic recovery is slowly gaining ground.

“This is by some distance the strongest set of Exchequer figures produced this year,” said Peter Vale, a tax partner at Grant Thornton. “We are finally seeing positive employment and earnings growth translating into increased activity in the domestic economy.   People have the confidence to divert savings to spending, which should give hope to retailers that spending through the holiday period will be strong.”

The Government’s finances are now almost bang on target thanks to the late surge and the State is now on track to exit the bailout later this month without missing debt targets.Some €34.97bn was paid into the Exchequer in the first eleven months of the year. That’s 0.6pc more than FInance Minister Michael Noonan targeted in last December’s Budget.

The Exchequer collected €520m, or 9.6pc more in November than it did in the same month last year as receipts from income tax rose 7.7pc and receipts from VAT jumped 9.5pc. Receipts from stamp duty surged 24.5pc as house prices rebounded in some areas and the number of transactions increased.

November is an important month for the Exchequer as companies pay around a quarter of all their taxes while many self-employed and farmers also file returns which means that income tax returns are almost twice the normal monthly average. November is a month which usually has high VAT receipts.

Man survives 60 hours at bottom of Atlantic as divers find him alive in sunken ship off Nigerian coast


Harrison Okene, who had been trapped in an air bubble of a capsized boat for almost three days, was rescued by divers

Entombed at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean in an upended tugboat for three days, Harrison Odjegba Okene begged God for a miracle.

The Nigerian cook survived by breathing an ever-dwindling supply of oxygen in an air pocket. A video of Mr Okene’s rescue in May – that was posted on the Internet more than six months later has gone viral this week.

As the temperature dropped to freezing, Mr Okene, dressed only in boxer shorts, recited the last psalm his wife had sent by text message, sometimes called the Prayer for Deliverance: “Oh God, by your name, save me. … The Lord sustains my life.”

To this day, Mr Okene believes his rescue after 72 hours underwater at a depth of 30 meters (about 100 feet) is a sign of divine deliverance. The other 11 seamen aboard the Jascon 4 died.

Divers sent to the scene were looking only for bodies, according to Tony Walker, project manager for the Dutch company DCN Diving.

The divers, who were working on a neighboring oil field 120 kilometres (75 miles) away when they were deployed, had already pulled up four bodies.

So when a hand appeared on the TV screen Mr Walker was monitoring in the rescue boat, showing what the diver in the Jascon saw, everybody assumed it was another corpse.

“The diver acknowledged that he had seen the hand and then, when he went to grab the hand, the hand grabbed him!” Mr Walker said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

“It was frightening for everybody,” he said. “For the guy that was trapped because he didn’t know what was happening. It was a shock for the diver while he was down there looking for bodies, and we (in the control room) shot back when the hand grabbed him on the screen.”

On the video, there’s an exclamation of fear and shock from Mr Okene’s rescuer, and then joy as the realization sets in. Okene recalls hearing: “There’s a survivor! He’s alive.”

Mr Walker said Mr Okene couldn’t have lasted much longer.

“He was incredibly lucky he was in an air pocket but he would have had a limited time (before) … he wouldn’t be able to breath anymore.”

The full video of the rescue captured by divers was released by DCN Diving after a request from The Associated Press. Initially, a shorter version of the rescue emerged on the Internet. The authenticity of the video was confirmed through conversations with DCN employees in the Netherlands. The video showing Mr Okene was also consistent with additional photos of him on the rescue ship. The AP also contacted Mr Okene on Tuesday who confirmed the events.

Mr Okene’s ordeal began around 4:30 a.m. on May 26. Always an early riser, he was in the toilet when the tug, one of three towing an oil tanker in Nigeria’s oil-rich Delta waters, gave a sudden lurch and then keeled over.

“I was dazed and everywhere was dark as I was thrown from one end of the small cubicle to another,” Mr Okene said in an exclusive interview after his rescue with Nigeria’s Nation newspaper.

He groped his way out of the toilet and tried to find a vent, propping doors open as he moved on. He discovered some tools and a life vest with two flashlights, which he stuffed into his shorts.

When he found a cabin of the sunken vessel that felt safe, he began the long wait, getting colder and colder as he played back a mental tape of his life – remembering his mother, friends, mostly the woman he’d married five years before with whom he hadn’t yet fathered a child.

He worried about his colleagues – 10 Nigerians and the Ukrainian captain including four young cadets from Nigeria’s Maritime Academy. They would have locked themselves into their cabins, standard procedure in an area stalked by pirates.

He got really worried when he heard the sound of fish, shark or barracudas he supposed, eating and fighting over something big.

As the waters rose, he made a rack on top of a platform and piled two mattresses on top.

According to his interview with the Nation: “I started calling on the name of God. … I started reminiscing on the verses I read before I slept. I read the Bible from Psalm 54 to 92. My wife had sent me the verses to read that night when she called me before I went to bed.”

He survived off just one bottle of Coke, all he had to sustain him during the trauma.

Mr Okene really thought he was going to die, he told the Nation, when he heard the sound of a boat engine and anchor dropping, but failed to get the attention of rescuers. He figured, given the size of the boat, that it would take a miracle for a diver to locate him. So he waded across the cabin, stripped the wall down to its steel body, then knocked on it with a hammer.

But “I heard them moving away. They were far away from where I was.”

By the time he was saved, relatives already had been told the sailors were dead.

Mr Okene kept faith with the psalm he recited, that promises to “give thanks in your name, Lord,” at a service at his Redeemed Christian Church of God.

He was rescued by a diver who first used hot water to warm him up, then attached him to an oxygen mask. Once free of the sunken boat, he was put into a decompression chamber and then safely returned to the surface.

Suicide prevention poster campaign launched in Galway by parents of late Donal Walsh


Donal Walsh: the parents of the Kerry teenager who died after a long illness earlier this year have initiated a new suicide prevention poster campaign for the west of Ireland.

A new suicide prevention poster campaign for the west was initiated in east Galway last night by Elma and Fionbarr Walsh, parents of the Kerry teenager Donal Walsh who died after a long illness earlier this year.

Donal Walsh “gave inspiration and hope to young people battling with depression and thoughts of suicide”, the Galway East Life Support (GELS) group has said, paying tribute to his family for their support in publishing its new poster in Ballinasloe, Co Galway.

Support organisations
The poster lists seven organisations which offer support to people, including the Samaritans, Console and Pieta House, which has opened its new premises in Tuam, Co Galway.

Sporting organisations including the GAA, FAI and IRFU, along with agriculture bodies IFA and Teagasc, have endorsed the prevention, awareness and education campaign by the east Galway group, which is chaired by Supt Gerry Roche of Ballinasloe Garda station.

GELS is at 085 1237878 and

Irish Mother of suicide girls in legal action against Donegal school authorities


THE mother of two teenage girls who took their own lives has launched legal proceedings against school authorities.

Lorraine Gallagher is suing Donegal Vocational Education Committee (now Donegal Education Training Board) following the death of her daughter Erin (13).

Erin took her own life in October last year amid claims that she was being bullied at school and online. She was a secondary school pupil at Finn Valley College in Stranorlar.

Her older sister Shannon (15) also took her own life just a few weeks later, saying she could not go on without Erin.

Ms Gallagher (37) is claiming damages for mental distress.

Her legal team claims the school failed in its duty of care to provide a “controlled, monitored, safe, supervised working environment” for Erin. The family’s solicitor, Patsy Gallagher, confirmed that he has now served legal papers on the Donegal ETB.

It is also understood that further proceedings are being prepared to be served on another local authority.

“The necessary papers have been served on their legal representatives,” said Mr Gallagher.

Meanwhile, Ms Gallagher is preparing to mark the first anniversary of Shannon’s death later this month.

In October she marked the first anniversary of daughter Erin’s death.

Diminutive Koalas can bellow with unique voice organ


See a male koala making the extraordinary bellowing sounds.

It is a low, rumbling bellow that seems very incongruous coming from the mouth of a diminutive koala.

And now scientists have found that these famously sleepy marsupials have evolved a vocal organ that allows them to produce very low-pitched sound.

Koalas, researchers discovered, have an “extra pair of vocal folds” outside the larynx, which they use to make their mating calls.

“The first time I heard a koala bellow I was genuinely amazed that an animal this small could produce such a sound,” said Benjamin D Charlton, of the University of Sussex, who led the research.

The pitch of the bellow, Dr Charlton said, was about “20 times lower than would be expected for an animal of its size”.

“[It is] more typical of an animal the size of an elephant,” he told BBC News.

The pitch of a call is generally associated with a mammal’s size, because vocalisations come mainly from the larynx – an organ we sometimes refer to as our “voice box”.

This organ has a valve-like opening with two lips – or folds – running across it. The vibration of these folds creates most of the sound we make when we speak.

Smaller mammals, like koalas, which can weigh as little as 8kg (18lb), tend to have a smaller larynx with shorter, thinner vocal folds. And just like strings on a musical instrument, these make a higher pitched sound.

But when the researchers dissected the koalas’ vocal tracts, they found a second, larger set of vocal folds.

“[They] are located outside the larynx, where the oral and nasal cavities connect,” said Dr Charlton.

These folds, called the velar vocal folds are “over three times longer and around 700 times heavier than the laryngeal vocal folds”, he added.

Very low pitch might help koalas transmit information more clearly in their calls

“Larger structures can oscillate at lower frequencies.

“Just think of a guitar string – as you shorten the string by placing a finger on the fret board, you raise the frequency of the sound produced, and the thickest strings produce the lowest frequencies.”

“Dr David Reby, from the University of Sussex, who was also involved in the research, explained that the animals’ “unique vocal folds” were part of the soft palate, and “much bigger than the laryngeal vocal folds”.

He said that humans created a similar effect when they snored, but added that our own soft palate was “not specialised for the production of sound”.

The researchers think the very low pitched calls might have evolved, because it helped the koalas to transfer information more clearly in their vocalisations.

Dr Charlton added: “Another possibility is that low pitch acts as a direct cue [to females of the male’s quality], but this remains a topic for future studies.”


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