Northern Ireland

Inquiry into mother and baby deaths at Ulster Hospital

An investigation is underway after a woman and her newborn son died within minutes of each other at the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald.

Cara Officer, 36, was 26 weeks pregnant with her second child when she was taken to hospital on Sunday.

Her son, Ewan, was delivered by casearean section but died.

The South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust have confirmed that an internal inquiry into the deaths has begun.

The trust said Ms Officer attended the hospital once in the week prior to her death. A spokeswoman said it would be incorrect to say that she had attended several times.

The spokeswoman said that Ms Officer was "critical" when she arrived by ambulance at the hospital on Sunday morning.

"She rapidly deteriorated and extensive efforts to resuscitate her were unsuccessful.

"The baby was delivered by emergency caesarean section within the first few minutes of the woman's arrival in the hospital, the baby was attended to immediately by a consultant neonatologist, and every effort was made to resuscitate the baby. But unfortunately this proved unsuccessful."

The spokeswoman said an internal review of the case was underway. She said the trust extended its sincere condolences to the family.

In a statement released through the family's minister, Rev Mervyn Gibson, Ms Officer's family asked for privacy.

"The family are trying to come to terms with the tragic death of Cara and her baby son Ewan, and as you appreciate they are heartbroken," the statement said.

"The deaths are being investigated by the proper authorities and the family would not wish to comment any further at this time.

"I would ask that the family be given the space and peace to grieve over the coming days."

Mother and child will be buried after a joint funeral service at Westbourne Presbyterian Church in east Belfast later.