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"The docs said it was a routine procedure but my wife died and now we're on our own"

The heartrending words of 48-year-old Stewart Jones from Stanstead Abbots, Hertfordshire, who lost his wife Kate after she went in to hospital for a procedure they were told was 'routine' in order to check her heart.

Posted on 20 August 2018

Now Stewart and his family have been awarded £700,000 in an out-of-court settlement after his solicitors Leigh Day brought an action for negligence against the Princess Alexandra NHS Trust on behalf of Stewart, his two daughters, Siena and Lily, son Jaxon and Kate’s son from a previous relationship, Jake.

Stewart said, “No amount of compensation can bring back Kate and we will have to live the rest of our lives without her love, support and zest for life. I brought the action because I desperately want lessons to be learnt from Kate’s death and I do not want any other family to have to go through what we have to endure since her untimely death.”

Kate Jones was just 35 when she died in October 2013. Kate took statins like millions of others to control high cholesterol levels which ran in her family and after feeling a slight heart palpitation and because of her family history, she was sent for a scan and a stress test. 

It was then decided to send her for an angiography at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, a procedure explained to Kate and Stewart as ‘routine’ and described on the NHS Choices website as ‘a generally safe and painless procedure.’

Kate went for the angiography on the 30th October 2013, thinking she would be in hospital for a few hours and home later the same day. What happened is indelibly etched on Stewart’s mind.

He said: “She went in feeling a bit nervous but safe in the knowledge it was straightforward day-care procedure. Despite her very occasional heart murmur and high cholesterol, Kate was otherwise fit and full of life, always on the go and running around after the kids and making sure we were all in order.

“I took Kate to the hospital and the procedure took place about 11.00am in a separate room. I was left outside in a waiting room area. After an hour I saw staff emerge from the room in an obviously concerned state. It looked like they were running for help and that is exactly what was happening. A specialist then came and went in to the room where Kate was and I knew that something was wrong, but I didn’t know how wrong.

"My fears were confirmed when a nurse came out and asked me what were our children’s names? I realise now she wanted this information to keep Kate focussed and help her cling to life. It didn’t work and my lovely Kate was pronounced dead at 13.29pm.”

What had tragically occurred was that Kate Jones had suffered a very rare tear to her artery, serious but not in itself fatal. Sadly, despite the tear being seen, there was a delay of fifteen crucial minutes before a heart specialist was called. This had an impact on the severity of the injury and her condition deteriorated.

During the procedure one of the arteries was damaged and a guide wire was inserted to try and increase blood flow through the artery, but the connector keeping the guide wire in-place broke. Instead of leaving the guide wire in place and replacing the connector, the surgeon pulled the guide wire  out with catastrophic results and Kate died.

Suzanne White, Head of Clinical Negligence at Leigh Day, who represented Stewart and his family, said:

“This was a truly tragic case to deal with, one that has left a  family utterly devastated, a husband widowed and four children without a mother. The family had the trauma of re-living the tragic events leading up to Kate’s death at an inquest, and have had to endure protracted litigation adding to their distress.  Despite agreeing a sizeable settlement, which I hope will help Stewart raise and support his children, the NHS Trust concerned has never admitted liability and Stewart has found this particularly difficult to deal with.” 

Said Stewart in conclusion, “I met Kate in 2004 and we married in 2008. She was literally the love of my life. She was vibrant, caring and talented, with a unique sense of humour. She was so proud of her kids and she made a lasting impression on everyone who met her. Her friends and family have been devastated by her death and I still find it hard to believe she’s not here. Her legacy is one of love, laughter and compassion and I know she would want us remember her that way.”