It should have been a simple procedure of stomach stapling, but about six months after the surgery Julienne Maria McKay-Hall was dead.
The 46-year-old mother of two underwent the elective surgery at St John of God Hospital in Murdoch, in Perth’s south, on November 9, 2007.
Complications from the operation meant Ms McKay-Hall was in and out of hospital for further procedures over the next few months.
On May 18, 2008 she was pronounced brain dead and she died on May 19 - just over six months after her initial operation.
The West Australian coroner is examining the circumstances surrounding Ms McKay-Hall’s death, including her health before the procedure, the experience of doctors and how common the procedure was in Australia at the time.
Her sister, Helen Aram, told the inquest on Monday that the family, which included five siblings, a husband and two young children, were still grieving more than four years after their loss.
Reading from a prepared statement, Ms Aram said her sister loved music and her “witty quips” would often make people smile.
She said her sister had a “bright outlook” on life and “loved being a mother”.
However, Ms McKay-Hall found it hard to control her weight, Ms Aram said.
Under questioning, Ms Aram said her sister’s doctor, Hairul Anuar Ahmad, told her he had to staple the stomach at one point in an “under position” because the staple gun had misfired.
However, a lawyer for the doctor said his client would give conflicting evidence on that matter when he testified later in the inquest.
Earlier, in his opening address, counsel assisting the coroner Anthony Willinge said Ms McKay-Hall was obese, weighing about 111kg before the initial operation.
He said that in 2007 gastric banding was a common procedure in Australia but the gastric sleeve, commonly known as stomach stapling, was relatively new.
The risk with stomach stapling was that there could be a leak, Mr Willinge said.
Reading from a section of Dr Ahmad’s notes, Mr Willinge said because one of the staples did not fire properly, the area was over-sewn and Tiseel glue was used on the staple line.
Following a series of other complications, Ms McKay-Hall was readmitted to hospital on May 12, 2008 for another procedure but died seven days later.
Mr Willinge said a post-mortem examination found heavily congested lungs, coronary heart disease and a hypoxic brain injury.
The cause of death was concluded as complications following cardio-respiratory arrest, in association with an air embolism during a gastroscopy and stenting procedure for a chronic abdominal fistula after a sleeve gastrectomy.
The inquest continues.
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