Vânia Alves reportedly had 'various pathologies'. If this means her pregnancy was considered to be risky, questions need to be asked as to why was she sent home.
Vânia Alves reportedly had 'various pathologies'. If this means her pregnancy was considered to be risky, questions need to be asked as to why was she sent home.

Public Prosecutor’s Office investigates death of 26-year-old woman in final stages of pregnancy

Unborn baby of Vânia Alves also died

Portugal’s Public Prosecutor’s Office is investigating the circumstances in which a 26-year-old pregnant woman and her baby died after being treated at Guimarães Hospital.

The Attorney General’s Office has confirmed “the existence of an inquiry (…) It is being carried out by the Guimarães Public Prosecutor’s Office”, a source has told Lusa news agency.

ERS – the Health Regulatory Authority – and IGAS – the Health Activities Inspectorate – have also announced the opening of assessment and enquiry procedures, respectively, into the death of Vânia Alves, whom reports repeatedly say had “various pathologies” or “comorbidities”.

In a report this morning, Correio da Manhã carries a photograph of Vânia Alves which gives no indication of what those underlying conditions may have been. The photo depicts a perfectly normal looking young woman, smiling happily.

Since news of Vânia Alves’ death, and the death of her unborn child, Guimarães’ Senhora da Oliveira Hospital (HSO) has said that it “sympathises with the family “at this difficult time and regrets their loss”, assuming that it has always acted in accordance with the protocols established for these situations, writes Lusa.

“At this stage, what we can say is that the entire clinical protocol was carried out, from the outset, in accordance with the procedures required in these situations. This was a patient with comorbidities, and she arrived at this hospital already lifeless. As is protocol in these circumstances, we are awaiting the results of the autopsy,” says the HSO.

Lusa confirms that Vânia Alves was 35 weeks pregnant and being monitored at Guimarães Hospital.

On Sunday, she walked into that hospital complaining of shortness of breath. According to Lusa, “she underwent various tests which detected nothing”.

Lusa’s reporting claims that “the hospital discharged the patient. On Monday, the woman felt unwell again and died, along with her baby, in the ambulance on the way to the hospital”.

Correio da Manhã however has a slightly different account. According to CM, Vânia Alves “started to feel the same symptoms” that had caused her to seek help in the hospital “on the very same day” that she was discharged.

The emergency call was sent out to firefighters (based in Taipas) “but no sooner that she entered the ambulance than she suffered cardiac arrest. She died on the way to hospital. Her child did not survive. Everything happened in Sande São Clemente”.

Neither news source refers to a similar tragedy having taken place in Lisbon last year – leading to the resignation of the then minister for health, Marta Temido.

The big question in the inquiries ongoing now will be if Vânia Alves suffered various pathologies/ comorbidities, why was she not admitted into hospital for overnight observation; indeed why was she not considered a candidate for induced birth, given that survival rates for babies at 35 weeks are extremely high?

Certainly, commentary under the account of this tragedy in Vânia Alves’ local newspaper show that people are appalled: “Those responsible must be held accountable”, says one reader; many others simply allude to the “sad state” of the country’s national health service. One reader remarks: “These kind of situations keep happening; they can’t. They really can’t”

This was to have been Vânia Alves’ first child. Her funeral is taking place today in the freguesia of Corvite.

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