Hanley woman died after 10-hour open heart surgery, inquest told

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A woman died after a complication from a 10-hour open heart surgery procedure, an inquest heard.

Susan Griffiths, 64, of Eaton Street, Hanley, died at Royal Stoke University Hospital on June 30 last year.

The former pot bank worker had open heart surgery after being referred to Dr Qamar Abid by her GP.

Mrs Griffiths visited her GP, complaining of breathlessness and was referred to the cardiology team at the hospital.

She was told if she didn’t have the surgery, doctors could not say how long she would live as tests showed two of the main valves in her heart were not working properly.

However, the first time she was due to have the surgery, she was told it could not go ahead as her liver was not functioning properly, caused by heavy drinking.

Mrs Griffiths’ son Steven Perry, told the inquest his mother started drinking after his brother died of solvent abuse in 1995 when he was just 15.

Doctors told her the surgery could not be completed unless she stopped drinking.

She did what the doctors told her and the surgery took place on June 29.

Mrs Griffiths was aware of the risks and was told she would be at a slightly higher risk due to her drinking.

The surgery was successful but when doctors took her off the heart bypass machine, blood started appearing from behind her heart.

The tear that caused the bleeding was repaired and the machine was turned off again, when the two valves that had been replaced started leaking.

The third time the machine was turned off, Mrs Griffiths’ heart stopped working, leaving doctors no choice but to pronounce her dead.

The surgery usually lasts three to four hours, however due to the complications, it took ten.

Mr Abid told the hearing: “I don’t like to fail.

“These patients are under my care, my responsibility. I do whatever I can.”

Pathologist Dr Cordelia Howitt, who carried out the postmortem, said that Mrs Griffiths’ heart tissue was extremely thin, due to having rheumatic fever as a child, something her family knew nothing about.

North Staffordshire Senior Coroner Ian Smith recorded a conclusion that Mrs Griffiths died of a recognised complication of surgery.

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