by Louise Doyle
A DOCUMENTARY film exploring the devastating consequences of maternal deaths in Ireland will have its Letterkenny launch tomorrow.
‘Picking up the threads’, by Anne-Marie Greene, will be screened at the Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny, at 3pm and will be followed by a question and answer session from men who, having been left widowed as the result of maternal deaths, are now calling for a change in law by seeking to have automatic inquests in place for every maternity-related death.
The documentary features heart-breaking accounts of those who have been left devastated and bereaved following the death of their loved ones in maternal-related incidents in hospitals across the country.
The poignant event will also see the unveiling of a quilt knitted by a group of midwives to commemorate the lives of eight women who died in hospitals throughout Ireland after giving birth in recent years, as well as thousands of others whose names are not known. The ‘Picking up the threads: Remaking the fabric of care’ quilt is part of the Elephant Collective’s multimedia exhibition.
Speaking to the Donegal News ahead of the event, Sean Rowlette, from Dromore West, County Sligo, whose wife, Sally, died just over three years ago, said he hoped the documentary would further support his and other widowers’ calls for all maternal deaths to be afforded an automatic inquest.
A petition calling on the Minister for Justice set up via change.org is gaining momentum with almost 700 signatures to date.
Mrs Rowlette passed away on February 5, 2013, in Sligo Regional Hospital, just one day after giving birth to the couple’s fourth child.
The 36-year-old mother suffered a massive brain hemorrhage and swelling of the brain associated with HELLP syndrome – a severe form of pre-eclampsia.
In December 2014, almost two years after his wife died, a verdict of medical misadventure was returned at her inquest.
The father-of-four, who since his wife’s tragic death, has, along with a number of other widowers, been tirelessly campaigning to have automatic inquests in place, is one of those interviewed in the documentary, which also features his eldest child, Leanne.
In the film he recalls how he had to explain to his four children, Leanne, Abbie, Joseph and Sally their mum wasn’t coming home.
Looking ahead to the launch, Mr Rowlette said: “There was a great response to the documentary in Dublin when it was screened there and we’re hoping for the same reaction in Donegal.
“The event will be open to the public and expectant mothers are urged to come along and voice any concerns they may have.
“There are almost 700 signatures on the petition calling for all maternal related deaths to have an automatic inquest. The petition is a way of putting more pressure on the government that something like this never be allowed to happen to anyone else again.
“It’s a matter for the new government to legislate the change on this now. I’m hopeful for a positive outcome.”
The petition is available to view and sign on www.change.org and will also be available to sign on the day.
The event is open to the public and everyone is welcome.