Reaction to gastric bypass surgery kills mother who did it for her son

A young mother who wanted to lose weight for the sake of her son died from complications days after undergoing gastric bypass surgery.

Twenty-nine year old Suzanne Murphy, who weighed more than 19st (120kg), waited 16 months for the operation which she wanted for her five-year-old son Jacob's sake.

She went into hospital in October 2006 for a stomach-stapling operation, which reduces the amount a person can eat and how much food is absorbed but suffered a massive adverse reaction and died from multiple organ failure four days later.

However an inquest into her death has heard that Ms Murphy had contracted methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and may also have been genetically predisposed to have an aggressive response to surgery that her body could not fight.

The inquest in Huddersfield heard that Ms Murphy, of Lightcliffe, Halifax, West Yorkshire, was put on the list for bypass surgery after a consultation with surgeon, Dr. Brian Dobbins, in June 2005, tests showed that she was no more at risk than anyone else.

She was admitted to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary on October 30, 2006, for the operation, which was deemed to have been successful, however on the following day Dr. Dobbins noticed her pulse rate had quickened and her blood count had dropped.

A transfusion did not resolve the issues and she underwent an exploratory operation 24 hours after her gastric banding surgery.

Doctors found little wrong except for a small leak from the operation wound, which was considered normal and Dr. Dobbins, who has performed around 50 bypass operations, says the expectation was that her condition would improve.

When this did not happen a septic reaction was suspected but further surgery did not reveal any source for her continuing illness.

However tests for MRSA, carried out on November 4, 2006, came back positive after she had died that day.

Experts in microbiology say they are not convinced MRSA was the cause of the septic reaction and say it was more likely to have been one of the other organisms in her body.

An independent report suggests the woman was possibly the victim of a systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) which happens to a very small percentage of the population which can be triggered by infection, trauma and surgery.

It also says a combination of factors triggered an inflammatory response, which was amplified by her genetic condition and her morbid obesity.

Recording a verdict of misadventure the coroner said, "MRSA was not relevant, on the balance of probabilities, to her death."

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