A 71-year-old woman died after a heart valve was put in upside down in a routine surgery at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne.

The surgery led by consultant surgeon Asif Raza Shah, caused massive internal bleeding in Sheila Hynes’s heart and the damage was irreversible. There was a second operation attempted to get her heart working but she did not come around the operation and died in intensive care a week later.

“My life has been destroyed by what happened to my mother,” Hynes’ daughter, Jan Hopper said.

The family took three days to find out the truth

As her breathing was hampered by inadequate blood flow, Hynes, a widow with seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, had undergone the surgery.

Hopper said she knew something was wrong when the staff were not clear in their explanation the second time she rang the hospital. The staff told her there had been complications and requested her to come in.

Hopper said, “The surgeon came in accompanied by a nurse and when we asked why she was bleeding so heavily, he said he didn't know and there had been problems with the left side of her heart.”

However, again, the family was not told of the details of the surgery.

“It took three days before we found out there had been an injury to her heart – that was dropped into conversation by one of the doctors,” said Hopper.

The family questioned the doctor and he said that the heart had been punctured and that the valve was inserted in the wrong way. They were immediately suspicious as no one had informed them about it.

“We were told that putting the heart valve on the wrong way had caused her heart to balloon up and expand, and then when it contracted the wall of her heart was pierced on an instrument,” said Hopper.

”We still haven't come to terms with what happened. It's been traumatic.”

“Mrs Hynes’s right to life was breached under the Human Rights Act”

The family have launched legal action and their lawyer, Nicola Evans, said she believes Mrs Hynes’s right to life was breached under the Human Rights Act.

She said, “This is an absolutely shocking case. A family has been robbed of a much-loved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother simply because a surgeon has not taken the care to ensure he has fitted a heart valve the right way up.”

According to Evans, the error was not actually identified by the surgeon himself at the time, but was only discovered after another surgeon came in to assist and discovered it.

“Such was the scale of this error, we applied for the Inquest into Mrs Hynes' death to have further scope to investigate the circumstances under the Human Rights Act, which has been agreed by the coroner,” she added.

NHS Foundation Trust admitted the error

Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Freeman, has admitted the error and full breach of duty.

A trust statement said, "Our thoughts are with Mrs Hynes's family at this difficult time and we would like again to offer our sincere condolences to them.”

"Our staff always try to provide the best possible care to all of our patients. So we take the death of any of our patients very seriously.”

"Sadly, when providing complex treatment there may be rare occasions when something unexpected happens, and in those circumstances we always carry out an in-depth investigation and we have done so in this case."

The trust said it could not comment further before the inquest scheduled in 2017 takes place for the April 2015 death. MIMS

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