The son of the late Michael Daly who passed away after a prolonged stay at University Hospital Limerick in 2010 has told Gript it was “horrendous” to have to read through some 6,000 pages of medical records on his father’s treatment in order to establish the actual cause of death.
Mike Daly (52) described how his late father was a kind and gentle man and how even in the midst of his pain and suffering he used to sign to his wife to cheer her up while in hospital.
Last week, the Daly family had their convictions about what led to the death of 64 year old Michael vindicated after a second inquest overturned an initial finding from 2012 of death by natural causes due to heart failure.
The inquest, which saw evidence given by retired state pathologist Dr. Marie Cassidy, found that complications arising from cardiac failure and cardiac disease aggravated by bowel cancer, surgeries, infection, sepsis, and peritonitis led to Mr. Daly’s demise.
Mike Daly (52) – the son of the late Michael – said he spent four years reading over the papers desperate to find answers as to what had caused his father’s death.
He says that although the family were “relieved” by the result handed down by Limerick Coroner John McNamara it was what they “always knew”.
He added that during the ordeal of seeing their father deteriorate he and his five siblings suffered immense stress and anxiety especially during an episode that he says took place over several days where he says their father suffered “120 seizures”.
He says it was extremely difficult to see his father’s heart stop and start and try to “talk him through” the episodes, “it had a bad effect on us all”, he said adding “now we can actually try to get closure and grieve our dad”.
He described how during the “seizures” his siblings would circle around their father’s bed each with a hand on his arm, leg, hand, or foot trying to comfort him and how they never left his side even as he slept.
“Even when he was suffering he was thinking of us” said Mike recounting how his father would sing through the ordeal in order to lighten the atmosphere even though he was “terrified of dying”.
Mike says his mother was “delighted” with the outcome of the second inquest and gave an interview to waiting journalists despite being a ‘very shy person’.
‘Dad always gave mam whatever money he had’ says Mike remembering how even when money was scarce Mr.Daly would take him and his siblings picking blackberries or swimming.
“He was a good husband.,” he said, adding that his dad had ‘always handed up what money he had’ to his wife.
He says his search for answers about his father’s death was prompted by what he described as a series of unanswered questions arising from the finding of the initial inquest.
Sometime after a surgery he had in 2007, Mr. Daly developed an anastomotic leak where the bowel had been reconnected during surgery which led to sepsis.
Mike Daly says that doctors at UHL “didn’t know” that his father had an anastomotic leak or sepsis.
Mr. Daly was treated for infection with antibiotics and discharged in September 2007 from hospital with an ileostomy bag after the antibiotics resolved the sepsis, however the leak in his bowels remained undetected.
Mike says that for the next 7 months his father “picked up great” and was even able to go on a holiday with his wife to Killarney for an anniversary in April 2008.
He says that when his father returned from the holidays that he was booked in to reverse the ileostomy so he could “resume normal function of the bowel”, a surgery that was performed at the end of the same month.
“Less than four weeks later in May my dad’s problems started” he said adding,“He started rectal bleeding out of his back passage”.
Mike says that from May to August his father presented at A&E “three or four times with continuous rectal bleeding” and that he was developing “abdominal pain, nausea and losing weight”.
He says his father’s symptoms were taken as “superficial” and his father’s follow up appointments were spaced “six months apart”.
He says that a subsequent CT scan showed the leak in his father’s bowel but that nothing was done.
In December 2008 Mr. Daly had a colonoscopy where Mike says the leak was missed again while “puss debris” was found in biopsy results.
He says that all this time the family were led to believe that there was nothing wrong with their father “that a good dinner wouldn’t fix”.
In February 2009, Mike says his father’s blood loss became so bad that he was “losing up to two cup fulls of blood per time”.
“He was very anaemic and had to get blood transfusions”, he said adding “Again in hindsight that there was a working diagnosis of sepsis offered by A&E” but the blood loss was treated as anaemia and Mr. Daly was sent home.
He says this went on “over and back over and back weekly” from February to November 2009 describing ambulances being called and mattresses “drowned in blood”.
Mike says that as his father’s condition continued to deteriorate and that as the last days of his life drew near he expressed that he didn’t “want to die in this hospital” leading the family to make the decision to move him to a hospice ‘so he could die peacefully’.
Mr. Daly died on the 7th of April 2010 only hours after being moved to the Milford Care Centre.