A father has spoken out about his heartache after the sudden death of his ‘healthy’ wife and their unborn baby.
The only 28-year-old Sabine Mukanga had complained of heartburn and was hospitalized that same evening.
When she was seven months pregnant, she and her partner Robert Lawani were incredibly excited for the birth of their baby girl.
At the hospital, it was found that her baby had died – but was alive on arrival, according to Robert. Shortly thereafter, Sabine died during an operation.
An inquest earlier this month found that Sabine had died of internal bleeding. Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust has been criticized for “shortcomings”.
Robert is now raising his children aged seven and four alone.
Sabine, who also had a 14-year-old son from a previous relationship, was buried with her young daughter Princetta in her arms.
Robert, 39, from Manchester, said: “Without Sabine I’m completely lost.
“Sabine was perfectly fit and healthy and had no problems with any of her pregnancies so we had no concerns at all.
“After her death, everything was a blur. She was buried with our daughter and just couldn’t accept it. I had no idea what had gone wrong.
“We were so excited for a new baby. My life collapsed.”
Robert and Sabine met in 2013 and had two children before getting pregnant again in 2020.
In February 2021, in the seventh month of pregnancy, Sabine became unwell.
Robert says: “She was sitting at the end of the bed complaining of heartburn… She passed out and out of breath so I called an ambulance.
“A few minutes later, just after 10.30pm, the paramedics came and checked them out and said the mother and baby seemed fine but would take them to the hospital as a precaution.
“I arranged for relatives to sit with the children so I could follow the ambulance. But the ambulance waited in front of the house for a long time before they left, and that’s when my concerns began.”
Sabine arrived at North Manchester General Hospital at 1am where doctors were going to do a CT scan.
Robert says: “Sabine was concerned that the baby would be harmed but was reassured and agreed.
“She seemed talkative and upbeat and there were no signs of an emergency or panic, there didn’t seem to be any rush so I figured it couldn’t be anything serious.” We still had no idea what was going on.
“The doctors then said our baby had died and Sabine had to undergo an emergency caesarean operation.”
Their baby daughter Princetta was stillborn and Sabine tragically died during surgery.
Robert said, “The last thing she said when she was brought down for surgery was, ‘Tell the kids I love them.’ I’ll be fine.’
“I don’t know exactly when and how our baby died. There seemed to be no urgency at all in the hospital, and yet by the end of the night both my partner and baby were dead.
“At the hearing, the doctors seemed to have indicated that Sabine had taken the time to agree to a CT scan. I was with her, she asked a question about the baby and then gave her consent. It took less than five minutes.
“I don’t know why it wasn’t done and if it might have saved her. But I know I have more questions than answers.”
Gastrointestinal consultant Sayan Bhattacharya, who oversaw an internal investigation, said a CT scan was not performed because Sabine’s blood pressure had dropped and it was considered unsafe to perform a scan.
It may have been determined that the source of bleeding – which Sabine had before she was admitted to the hospital – was from the splenic artery, which supplies the stomach, pancreas and spleen.
A splenic artery aneurysm is especially life-threatening for pregnant women, who are at higher risk for the condition, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Many people have no symptoms until the aneurysm is about to rupture, causing pain in the upper left abdomen.
dr Bhattacharya said treatment was difficult because the artery was deep.
She added if the source of the bleeding had been found, “Sabine would have had a slightly better chance of surviving, but since it was an out-of-hospital aneurysm, her chances were initially slim.”
Coroner Zak Golombeck found “deficiencies” in Sabine’s care and told the court that “a multidisciplinary approach should have been taken in her care.”
He added, “As far as I know, such defects contribute more than minimally to her death.”
Mr. Golombeck concluded that it was a natural death. At the hearing, it was determined that Sabine had suffered a “massive” fatal hemorrhage caused by an “external rupture of the external splenic artery hematoma.”
Following the hearing, a spokesman for Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust said: “We would like to once again extend our sincere condolences to Sabine’s family for their loss.”
“The coroner concluded that addressing the identified deficiencies would unfortunately not have changed Sabine’s outcome, but we have put in place an action plan that is part of our approach to continually learn lessons to improve patient care.”
Robert and his friends started GoFundMe to pursue legal action.
He wrote, “I am not happy with the coroner’s decision at the inquest after he admitted the hospital’s shortcomings, but nonetheless concluded that her death was natural.”