An inquest has been announced into the deaths of two women who died of herpes after giving birth.
Kim Sampson and Samantha Mulcahy gave birth by caesarean section six weeks apart in different hospitals run by the East Kent NHS Trust in 2018.
Deaths from herpes in healthy people are extremely rare. The coroner had originally written to the family of both women in 2019 to say an investigation would not be opened.
But in a new letter seen by the broadcaster, the area coroner Katrina Hepburn said: “I am now of the view that there is reason to suspect that the infection may have arisen as a consequence of a necessary medical procedure, namely the Caesarean section, and in those circumstances, I have a statutory duty to investigate further.”
The inquest is now set to be formally opened on January 4.
Ms Sampson, a 29-year-old barber, died of a herpes infection in May 2018 after giving birth to her son at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother hospital in Margate.
Nursery nurse Mrs Mulcahy, 32, died of the same infection at the William Harvey hospital in Ashford, with the cause of her death not recognised until after her death.
The family of both women told the BBC they welcomed the inquest.
Kim’s mother Yvette Sampson said: “We’ve wanted this since Kim died in 2018 - it’s been a long time coming. We hope we are finally going to get answers to the questions we’ve always had - both for ourselves and for Kim’s children.”
Samantha’s husband, Ryan Mulcahy, also told the broadcaster that “not knowing what happened has worsened the pain and the suffering from losing Sam".
The Trust said its “deepest sympathies” and thoughts were with the families of both mothers and that it would do everything it could to assist the inquest. The Standard has contacted the Trust for comment.
The herpes simplex 1 virus is a common infection that can cause sores around the mouth or genitals.