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'deep regrets' Husband who sued for surrogacy costs after wife’s cervical cancer death settles case

Padraig Creaven sued for nervous shock over his wife’s death and the alleged misinterpretation of her 2011 smear slide.

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Padraig Creaven (right), of Menlo, Galway, widower of Aoife Mitchell Creaven, leaving the High Court with Aoife’s parents, Gabriel (left) and Marcella Mitchell. Photo

Padraig Creaven (right), of Menlo, Galway, widower of Aoife Mitchell Creaven, leaving the High Court with Aoife’s parents, Gabriel (left) and Marcella Mitchell. Photo

Padraig Creaven (right), of Menlo, Galway, widower of Aoife Mitchell Creaven, leaving the High Court with Aoife’s parents, Gabriel (left) and Marcella Mitchell. Photo

The HSE and a US laboratory have told the High Court they “deeply regret the pain, suffering  and incalculable loss” experienced by the family of a 40 year old woman who died of cervical cancer.

Aoife Mitchell Creaven had to have a termination at 20 weeks of her much-wanted IVF pregnancy after she discovered she had terminal cervical cancer.

Three years after her death in 2015, her family were told of a CervicalCheck audit of her 2011 smear test taken under the national screening programme showed a change in the interpretation from the original result of no abnormalities detected.

Her husband sued for nervous shock over his wife’s death and the alleged misinterpretation of her 2011 smear slide.

His action included a claim for the costs of future surrogacy.

The court heard he hopes to use the couple’s frozen embryos to fulfill his deceased’s wife wish for a child through surrogacy.

The case opened on Wednesday and it was settled today.

In a statement to the court as the settlement was announced, the HSE and US laboratory CPL acknowledged that this “is a uniquely tragic case which has had the most devastating consequences for Aoife, her husband Padraig Creaven, and for Aoife’s family.”

It added: “We deeply regret the pain, suffering and incalculable loss experienced by Aoife, Padraic and her family.”

The HSE also said it “reiterates its sincere and unreserved apology” to Mr Creaven for the failure by the CervicalCheck programme to communicate in a timely and appropriate way the results of an audit that indicated a change in the interpretation of his wife’s smear taken on August 8,2011.

Noting the settlement Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy said she would like to extend her sympathy and condolences to Mr Creaven and the Mitchell family.

The judge said the court was particularly struck by the opening of the case where it was stated that Mrs Marcella Mitchell had travelled to London with her daughter Aoife for the termination.

The judge said one can only imagine how horrendous that was for the mother and daughter.

Outside court, Mr Creaven from Menlo, Galway, said he was happy to have got an acknowledgement from the HSE and CPL.

"I feel that I have some small bit of justice for Aoife," he said.

He added: "I hope going forward that more women won’t have to lose their lives before the system changes."

He wanted to acknowledge Aoife’s family for all the help and support and of him and his late wife "through an unimaginably difficult time."

The details of the settlement are confidential.

His case against the HSE, three laboratories and a hospital centred on the alleged misinterpretation of the woman’s cervical smear sample in 2011 taken under the CervicalCheck national screening programme.

The court heard the couple had been "deliriously happy" when the IVF treatment was successful after several unsuccessful attempts.

It was short lived however and Ms Mitchell Creaven found out she had terminal cervical cancer after discovering a lump on her neck in January 2014.

She and her husband had “the most extraordinary and difficult dilemma” and the “necessary course of action was to terminate the pregnancy”, the family's counsel said.

Because such terminations were illegal at the time, the couple decided they would have to look outside of Ireland.

Ms Mitchell Creaven along with her mother went to London in mid March 2014 and the termination took place.

After that the couple tried to find anything to prolong Aoife’s life but she died in 2015.

Mr Creaven, on behalf of himself and Aoife’s family, sued the HSE and three laboratories , Sonic Healthcare (Ireland) Ltd with offices at Sandyford Business Park, Dublin ; MedLab Pathology Ltd also of Sandyford Business Park and US laboratory Clinical Pathology Laboratories Incorporated (CPL) of Austin, Texas.

He also sued the Coombe Hospital in Dublin.

It was claimed against the HSE and the three laboratories there was a failure to report that the smear slide of 2011 was abnormal and Ms Mitchell Creaven was allegedly deprived of the opportunity of timely and effective investigation and management of her condition.

It was claimed against the hospital it concealed or failed to advise the Mitchell Creavens in a timely manner the result of a review of her 2011 smear slide .

All the claims were denied.

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