Sumera Haq: pregnant mum with Covid and her baby die two days apart after being transferred to wrong ward

Sumera Haq was pregnant with her third child when she caught Covid

A pregnant mum-of-three and her baby died just two days apart after she caught Covid and was transferred to an unsuitable ward to treat her illness, an inquest heard.

Sumera Haq, 37, was eight months’ pregnant with her third child when she contracted the virus and began suffering from severe stomach pain and worsening shortness of breath.

She was rushed to Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone, east London, on 7 August last year and was initially treated on a labour ward.

Sumera Haq was eight months’ pregnant with her third child when she caught Covid (Photo: Irwin Mitchell / SWNS)

Two days later, on 9 August last year, the primary school teacher was transferred to a medical ward after her respiratory function got worse.

Medical observations showed she was suffering an acute kidney injury and on 11 August her level of haemoglobin – a protein that carries oxygen around the body – was considered to be concerning low, the inquest was told.

In the early hours of the following morning, her condition deteriorated and she was administered blood thinners at 7am. Shortly after, the emergency buzzer was pressed and she required help from healthcare staff.

Her observations were monitored but she continued to deteriorate, and shortly after 9am she suffered a cardiac arrest.

A decision was made to deliver her daughter, Ayra Butt, by caesarean section at 9.30am but she had no signs of life. Despite medics trying to resuscitate her, the baby was pronounced dead just 15 minutes after being born.

Ms Haq was rushed to emergency surgery where doctors found a haematoma – a collection of clotted blood – in her abdomen, but could not find the source of the bleeding

Surgeons carried out a hysterectomy and Ms Haq was transferred to intensive care and put on a ventilator, but her condition continued to get worse and she sadly died on14 August.

The inquest found she died from multiple organ failure, abdominal bleeding, Covid infection and pneumonia.

The mum-of-three died from multiple organ failure, abdominal bleeding, Covid infection and pneumonia (Photo: Irwin Mitchell / SWNS)

Ward ‘was not an appropriate clinical setting’

An inquest at East London Coroner’s Court [that concluded on 14 July this year] found that Ms Haq was inappropriately transferred to a medical ward and died following a lack of clinical leadership.

There was also a lack of ‘multi-disciplinary planning’, close monitoring and ‘appropriate escalation’ due to her deterioration before she suffered a cardiac arrest, the hearing heard.

Coroner Nadia Persaud recorded a narrative conclusion and found the medical ward “was not an appropriate clinical setting” for Ms Haq.

The coroner ruled that she should not have been given blood thinners and no “adequate emergency action” was taken before she suffered a cardiac arrest.

It was found that there was no overall named consultant in charge of her care and there was no full multi-disciplinary meeting in planning her treatment.

"Insufficient regard" was taken of her acute kidney injury and no action was taken in response to Ms Haq’s concerningly low haemoglobin and persistent abdominal pain, the coroner added.

‘A living nightmare’

Kasim Butt, Ms Haq’s husband, described the last year as "a living nightmare" after suffering the double heartbreak of losing his wife and daughter.

The 41-year-old delivery driver said: “It’s almost impossible to find the words to describe the hurt and pain our family feels. The last year has been a living nightmare which I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

“Sumera was a wonderful wife and the best mum any child could ever want. She went out of her way to help others and her death at an age when she had her best years ahead of her, has been particularly difficult to come to terms with.

“Those few days and trying to come to terms with the death of Ayra, whilst Sumera was also slipping away from us is something I’m not sure I’ll ever get over.

“When I saw Ayra she was beautiful. I just held her and cried my eyes out. I’ll chish what little but precious time I had with her.”

Kasim Butt, Ms Haq’s husband, described the last year as “a living nightmare” (Photo: Irwin Mitchell / SWNS)

Mr Butt described being at his wife’s bedside and unable to help as “heart-breaking”, but said he and his family have taken some comfort from the evidence outlined at the inquest.

He hired medical negligence lawyers to help get answers and support his family - including the couple’s other children aged eight and five - through an inquest into his wife’s death.

Mr Butt added: “Being at Sumera’s bedside and holding her hand as her body shut down in front of my eyes and knowing there wasn’t anything I could do to help or save her was heart-breaking.

“I couldn’t stop thinking about our other children and how I was going to tell them their mummy wasn’t coming home.

“For nearly a year we’ve had so many questions about what happened. While the inquest and listening to the evidence has been incredibly traumatic it was something I needed to do to honour Sumera’s memory.

“I know nothing can bring Sumera back, or fill the void in our lives, but our family takes some comfort in at least now having some answers to our questions. I just hope nobody else has to go through the pain we have.”

Taylor Hackett, the expert medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Mr Butt, said: “This is a truly tragic case in which Kasim and the rest of Sumera’s family remain traumatised by their loss.

“Understandably Kasim has had a number of concerns and questions about the events that unfolded in the lead up to his wife’s death.

“While nothing can make up for what’s happened we’re pleased to have at least been able to support the family in their search for some answers.

“It’s now vital that lessons are learned following the several concerns that the inquest has identified in Sumera’s care.

“In the meantime we’ll continue to support the family to help them try and come to terms with their loss the best they can at this distressing time.”

Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs Whipps Cross Hospital, said the standard of care Ms Haq received was not good enough but that improvements have since been made.

A spokesman added: "We offer our sincere condolences to the family of Sumera Haq, the standard of care she should have received was not met on this occasion.

"Whipps Cross Hospital has made significant improvements since to ensure this does not happen again.”