Widower says death of nurse from Covid the 'hardest pain to bear'

The widower of a 28-year-old nurse, who died after giving birth last April after contracting Covid-19, has said that her sudden death was the “hardest pain to bear”, and that it was “difficult to believe that she lost her life to the virus” following an inquest into her death.

Delivering a narrative conclusion at the inquest on Tuesday, the coroner, Emma Whitting, ruled that Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong’s death was a result of multiple organ failure and Covid-19 and urged the prime minister to conduct a public inquiry into how the pandemic had been handled.

Agyapong died on 12 April last year at the hospital where she worked, five days after giving birth to her second child. She spent at least the last week of her life with coronavirus, a diagnosis initially dismissed by medics at the hospital where she worked despite her collapsing at home and suffering acute breathing difficulties.

After the inquest at Bedfordshire and Luton coroner’s court, Agyapong’s widower, Ernest Boateng, said that in the early days after her death, he was “only able to carry on because of the need to care for our children and provide them with a loving home”.

“Mary was strong, capable, vibrant, full of life and the most precious person in my life. It is still difficult to believe that she lost her life to the Covid-19 virus," Egli ha detto.

Boateng added that he was glad that those involved with Agyapong’s care had taken part in the inquest and had given a full account of what happened, but hoped the fact that they had to do so “will remind them of the need to always give the best possible care to women in Mary’s situation – especially black women who are themselves on the frontline of healthcare”. Boateng had told the inquest that Agyapong had said that she was concerned about becoming infected at work while heavily pregnant.

Whitting said in her ruling that it still remains unclear where and when Agyapong’s exposure to the virus first occurred.

Whitting also said that the process in understanding the wider policy implications that have arisen from the death of Agyapong, and all other lives lost due to the pandemic, goes “far beyond the scope of a coroner’s inquest”.

“While Mary’s untimely death is first and foremost a tragedy for her husband, her children and all her relations, colleagues and friends, it is for society too,” Whitting said. “As a society, it is important that we learn from all of the lives that have been lost as a result of this terrible pandemic and to consider the wider policy implications that may be lost from each and every one of these.

“Since this is a process which goes far beyond a coroner’s inquest and the prime minister has indicated his intention to hold a full public inquiry into the Covid-19 pandemic, I urge him to proceed with this as soon as practicable.”

Agyapong, who lived in Luton with her husband and her son, was pregnant with her second child when she first became ill in early April last year. After suffering from breathlessness and fatigue, she was taken to the emergency department of Luton and Dunstable university hospital on 5 April, which was also her place of work. She was discharged the same day, a decision that the inquest heard Agyapong was “unhappy” about.

She was readmitted to hospital two days later after her condition worsened, and she gave birth to her daughter the same day. She died in intensive care five days later.

The inquest also heard that Agyapong was the first pregnant patient with suspected Covid-19 to be treated at the hospital, and that a senior medic did not think she had the virus when she was first admitted to hospital.

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