An expectant mother has died after trainee surgeons removed her ovary, rather than her appendix, during an emergency weekend operation.

In October 2011, Maria De Jesus attended the Queen’s Hospital in Romford with severe abdominal pain. She was correctly diagnosed with appendicitis and underwent an emergency operation to have her inflamed appendix removed.

But because she was five months pregnant, an open procedure could not be performed. This led to two unsupervised trainee surgeons accidentally removing her ovary, rather than her appendix. However, the mistake was not identified and the 32 year old was discharged from hospital eight days later.

Two weeks after the initial operation, Mrs De Jesus was still in a great deal of pain and returned once again to the hospital. She had an emergency operation to remove septic fluid, but went on to suffer a miscarriage.

After another 48 hours doctors decided to review a pathology report – something which had been available for seven days. This revealed the error and medical practitioners finally realised that Mrs De Jesus’s appendix was still in situ. She was rushed into theatre but tragically the mother of two died on the operating table from multiple organ failure.

Mrs De Jesus’s husband, Adelino, said a “litany of errors” made by the Queen’s Hospital was responsible for his wife’s death. “This is neglect, this is an unlawful killing. If my wife had been given treatment by fully qualified staff and people were informed of the mistake earlier she could still be alive” he said.

“She went to hospital with stomach pains and we were told she needed to have her appendix out. She had the operation, and left hospital eight days later, but the pain continued. We wouldn’t have ever imagined what they had done.”

The hospital has admitted liability in this case and a full investigation is currently underway. At an inquest earlier this month a coroner recorded a narrative verdict.

Has your family been affected by medical negligence?

If your family has been similarly affected by surgical error, there is action you can take, as you can pursue a claim against the negligent hospital. Although this will not undo the damage that has been done, it may help you achieve a sense of justice for the injuries suffered by you and your loved ones.

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