Mother was ‘so excited’ to meet baby seconds before cardiac arrest, inquest told

A new mother said “I’m so excited” seconds before she went into cardiac arrest and died after her baby was delivered, an inquest has heard.

Bernadette Horsey died shortly after her son, Tim, was born in a planned caesarean section on January 19 2022 at the Royal Derby Hospital.

An inquest into her death at Derby Coroner’s Court previously heard doctors had no concerns about the 31-year-old’s health before she suffered a “profound, catastrophic collapse” moments after Tim was delivered.

On Thursday, Dr Rebecca Robinson, a consultant obstetrician at the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust who delivered Tim, said the operation was routine until seconds before the cardiac arrest.

She said: “I remember hearing Bernadette saying ‘I’m so excited’ as I was delivering him, so from my point of view I had no concerns, and was about to drop the screen.

“I saw Aaron and Bernadette both smile, and look at each other and smile, and I heard Bernadette say ‘It’s a boy’.

“At the point Tim was born, she was in theatre, she was there and she was well.

“What happened next happened very suddenly.”

The court heard on Wednesday from consultant anaesthetist, Dr Martyn Traves, who was also involved in the operation and present in theatre.

Dr Traves said he also had no concerns until shortly after Tim’s birth, when he noticed Mrs Horsey turn pale and become tonic, meaning her body was beginning to enter a seizure state.

She was declared to have gone into cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead at 11:45am.

Dr Traves told the coroner that he was “certain” she had suffered an amniotic fluid embolus, which caused her to enter cardiac arrest within seconds.

Dr Robinson estimated that she and her colleagues noticed the change in Mrs Horsey’s health in around 10 seconds and agreed with Dr Traves’ conclusion that an embolus had caused her death, describing the incident as “absolutely horrible”.

She said: “I heard Dr Traves say ‘she is going tonic’ and at the same time as that heard people saying ‘Bernadette’ and her not responding.

“The way that it happened, the clinical constellation of symptoms and signs of how it happened so suddenly, the timing of it [after] a baby being delivered, was classic of an amniotic fluid embolism.

“That is what clinically I believe was the cause. It was absolutely textbook presentation.”

Tim, pictured with his father, Aaron Horsey, survived (Family Handout/PA)
Tim, pictured with his father, Aaron Horsey, survived (Family Handout/PA)

She said deaths from such an embolus were rare and science had not yet established how amniotic fluid enters the bloodstream, but added it did not always cause harm or death.

She said: “Other people can bleed uncontrollably or have shortness of breath.

“In Bernadette’s case, the first sign of anything going wrong was a cardiac arrest.

“Everything was routine up until the moment of the cardiac arrest.”

When asked by Louise Pinder, assistant coroner for Derby and Derbyshire, whether she felt there were any missed opportunities to save Mrs Horsey, Dr Robinson replied: “No, I don’t think that there were.”

The inquest, expected to conclude on Friday, continues.

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