Whitsunday mum in legal battle over hole in her heart
WHITSUNDAY mother of three Karen Chittleborough is lucky to be alive. About 12 months ago Ms Chittleborough was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension and severe heart and lung damage, resulting from a 12mm hole in her heart.
But perhaps the biggest shock of all was the discovery that the hole in her heart was allegedly detected some nine years ago at an ante-natal appointment in Proserpine.
Ms Chittleborough, who is likely to require a future heart and lung transplant to try to prolong her life, is now suing the Queensland Government for $2.26million for breach of duty of care.
The lawsuit filed by Shine Lawyers claims that had Ms Chittleborough been told about the defect in 2004 and given the appropriate treatment, severe and irreversible damage to her heart and lungs could have been prevented.
Ms Chittleborough remembers the antenatal appointment during her first pregnancy with daughter Suraya, at which her doctor thought he detected a heart murmur. She was sent for an echocardiogram, the results of which were never communicated to her.
“I just went on my merry way. I had a midwives appointment a couple of weeks after that and I remember asking the midwife was there anything on my file or charts and apparently there wasn’t,” she said.
Nine years later, Ms Chittleborough has learned there were notes made detailing the 12mm hole between the upper chambers of her heart.
Although she went on to have two more children, Tyde, 7 and Nate, 5, Ms Chittleborough has also since discovered that pregnancy is incredibly dangerous for someone with her condition.
Shocked, angry and lucky were the words she used to describe how she felt and while winning the law suit might help from a financial point of view, it could in no way compensate for the life she now leads.
“It can’t make up for the fact that my kids say ‘mum’s got to rest again’ or ‘why can’t you take us for a bike ride’,” she said.
A spokesperson from Queensland Health said due to legal reasons the department was unable to comment.
KEEPING PACE: Karen Chittleborough, pictured with her husband Dave and children Tyde (7), Nate (5) and Suraya (8) at the family's Sugarloaf home.