A DEVASTATED mum found out her daughter was dead on FACEBOOK because the hospital "refused to give her any information".
Mary O’Brien-O’Shea desperately waited for an update on her daughter Aisling O’Reilly's health after the 42-year-old had a seizure University Hospital Limerick last year.
But medics wouldn't give Mary any information because of a hospital group policy which allows only one designated family member receive patient information.
It meant heartbroken Mary – who had hardly been able to visit her daughter in hospital due to Covid-19 rules – found out Aisling died when someone got in touch to pass on their condolences on Facebook.
Confused, the mum-of-four called the hospital up, adding: "I got through to the ICU and spoke to a staff nurse and asked him 'how was Aisling?'
"He said 'give me your phone number'. I knew then there was something wrong. I said 'you are frightening me now, please tell me my daughter is still with me'."
Mary passed on her phone number to the nurse, but – while she was waiting for a call back – her daughter Avril phoned up.
Avril, who was Aisling's designated contact, told their mum of her sister's death after receiving the call from the hospital the night before.
Mary said: "My daughter was dead 15 hours before I found out. The phone fell out of my hand."
The last time Mary spoke to Aisling, the daughter revealed she had caught Covid-19 while in hospital with kidney issues.
She told her mum: "Mum, you don’t realise how sick I am, I am in terrible pain, I have to turn my phone off as I am going up to ICU."
Mary told the Irish Mirror: "I rang religiously every morning to find out is my daughter still with me.
"All I got from hospital staff in ICU who answered the phone was sorry we can only give information to next-of-kin.
"I used to say ‘I am her mother, I am as close as you possibly be to her, I gave birth to her. I am next-of-kin, I just want to know is she still with me.'"
Tears were flowing when I went into ICU.
Mary said seeing her daughter for the last time – after being refused previous visits – was her "hardest journey".
She added: "It was the hardest journey I ever had to take because I knew I was saying goodbye to my daughter.
"They gowned me up. I said 'I can’t understand why all along you didn’t let me see Aisling'.
"'Does it have to come down to this before I could get to see her,' I asked.
"Tears were flowing when I went into ICU. Aisling’s hand was cold. A nurse offered me a chair to see but I opted to stand. I told Aisling how much I loved her and how proud I was of her."
The Health and Safety Executive's acute operations general manager Carol Ivory claimed other family members can be kept informed – even if they are not the designated contact.
Mary has launched a review request with the Ombudsman.
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