Primary teacher with Covid and her baby died after hospital failings in care

·3-min read
Sumera Haq, 37, was rushed to hospital while eight-months pregnant with her third child in August last year (family handout )
Sumera Haq, 37, was rushed to hospital while eight-months pregnant with her third child in August last year (family handout )

The husband of a primary school teacher who died with their baby daughter after being rushed to hospital with Covid-19 has described his “heartbreaking” loss after failings in their hospital care.

Sumera Haq, 37, was rushed to hospital while eight-months pregnant with her third child in August last year, after complaining of severe abdominal pain and breathing difficulties.

As her condition deteriorated, daughter Ayra Butt was born by caesarian section but did not survive, while Ms Haq suffered a cardiac arrest and died, seven days after she had been admitted to hospital.

After an inquest found a “lack of clinical leadership” at Whipps Cross Hospital in east London contributed to Ms Haq’s death, her grieving husband, Kasim Butt, 41, has spoken out to call for “lessons to be learned” from the tragedy.

“It’s almost impossible to find the words to describe the hurt and pain our family feel. The last year has been a living nightmare which I wouldn’t wish on anyone”, said Mr Butt, who works as a delivery driver.

 (family handout)
(family handout)

“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 take 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.”

Ms Haq, a teacher of years 3 and 4 at South Grove Primary School in Walthamstow since September 2018, was diagnosed with covid pneumonitis when admitted to hospital on August 7, 2021, and was found to be suffering from a serious kidney injury before she suffered a cardiac arrest on August 12. She died on August 14.

Following an inquest at East London Coroners Court, Coroner Nadia Persaud criticised the decision to transfer Ms Haq from a labour ward to a medical ward, that she did not have a consultant in charge of her care, a wrong decision to give her blood thinners shortly before the cardiac arrest, and a lack of “adequate emergency action” as her condition deteriorated.

“It’s now vital that lessons are learned following the several concerns that the inquest has identified in Sumera’s care”, said Taylor Hackett, an expert medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell which is representing Mr Butt.

 (family handout)
(family handout)

“This is a truly tragic case in which Kasim and the rest of Sumera’s family remain traumatised by their loss.”

Paying tribute to his wife, Mr Butt said: “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 cherish what little but precious time I had with her.

“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.”

In the wake of her death, more than £20,000 was raised by well-wishers to be donated to orphanages in Third World countries.

The inquest concluded Ms Haq died from multiple organ failure, abdominal bleeding, covid-19 infection and pneumonia.

A spokesperson for Whipps Cross Hospital said: “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.”

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