Roscommon mother lost 17 litres of blood during pancreatitis surgery – Inquest

A 76-year-old Roscommon mother of six died after losing 17 litres of blood during surgery for the treatment of pancreatitis.

Freda Fox, from Castlerea, died following surgery at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin.

Her family say they have been left with questions unanswered as the two trainee surgeons who carried out the operation were not present at an inquest into her death.


Dublin Coroner’s Court heard Mrs. Fox was admitted to St Vincent’s Hospital for a Whipple procedure, most commonly carried out to remove cancerous cells from the pancreas on September 1 2017.

The five-hour surgery began shortly before noon but complications arose one hour into surgery and Mrs Fox went into cardiac arrest.

Doctors successfully conducted CPR, which was described as vigorous by Consultant General at St Vincent’s Mr Anthony Stafford.

He said the two trainee surgeons that conducted the operation were in their second year of a fellowship at St Vincent’s and both had previous experience of conducting similar surgery.

Mr Stafford said the surgery involves dissection of blood vessels in possibly critical areas with 50% of all pancreatic dissections resulting in a bleed. The average bleed is 700ml, the court heard and mR Stafford told the inquest that he never would have predicted the extend of the bleeding

The surgery was stopped at 4.05pm and Mrs Fox was transferred for palliative care to the intensive care unit where she died the same day.

The cause of death was hypovolemic shock secondary to massive blood loss occurring during an operation to perform a Whipple procedure.

Pathologist Dr Niamh Nolan found no obvious defect in the affected blood vessel but noted Mrs Fox had undergone previous surgery and the gall bladder was removed.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane returned a verdict of death due to a complication of surgery.

In a family statement. Mrs Fox’s daughter Sandra Collins said her mother was kind, thoughtful generous and open-hearted. She loved her home, she loved to dance and she had great style. She was young at heart, courageous and funny”. she was loved very much and they miss her.