'She only did it so she'd see her children grow up': Family's heartbreak as mother-of-three dies after her stomach is punctured during weight-loss surgery
Tracey Korkmaz, 41, had hoped the operation at University College Hospital London would help her go from 23 stone to 18 stoneBut doctors failed to notice her stomach was punctured and her condition deteriorated
Died 10 days later after two further rounds of surgeryHospital now admitted full responsibility and paid undisclosed settlement
17:05 GMT, 7 December 2012
A mother-of-three died after her stomach lining was punctured during weight loss surgery.
Tracey Korkmaz, 41, had hoped the operation at University College Hospital London would help her go from 23 stone to 18 stone.
But during the procedure, known as a keyhole sleeve gastrectomy, doctors failed to notice her stomach was punctured and she died 10 days later.
Tracey Korkmaz (pictured here eight years before her death) ied after her stomach lining was punctured during weight loss surgery
During the original keyhole procedure, surgeons discovered that Mrs Korkmaz ’s liver was enlarged.
later established that the surgery should have been abandoned or
switched to a different type of operation, but instead it continued.
Mrs Korkmaz then suffered internal bleeding and the operation had to be converted to open surgery.
After she deteriorated following the surgery, doctors operated on her again to try and discover the cause of her feverish symptoms but could not find the leak, allowing poisonous fluids to continue to seep into her body and cause irreparable damage.
WHAT IS A SLEEVE GASTRECTOMY
A sleeve gastrectomy reduces the size
of the stomach by about 75 per cent. The stomach is divided vertically from top
to bottom, making it banana-shaped.
Medical literature suggests the death rate from this procedure stands at 0.05 per cent. The risk of damage to internal organs is said to be 1 in 1000.
Even after a third operation and repair of the leak she continued to deteriorate and died 10 days after the original surgery.
The NHS reception worker left behind three children, her husband Yusuf, and a large family in Turkey.
Her heartbroken mother, June Sillitoe, 69, said her daughter had thought long and hard about whether to go ahead with the surgery.
‘But she wanted to be healthier for the kids and wanted to know that she would be around to see them reach adulthood and one day become a grandmother herself,’ she explained.
‘The gastric bypass was a last resort but sadly, because of the mistakes made, she was robbed of this.’
Mrs Sillitoe, who now cares for Mrs Korkmaz’s three children, Riah 16, Enes, 13, and Zeren, seven, added: ‘Tracey’s death has left a huge gap in all of our lives and we’ve struggled to come to terms with the fact she has gone.’
Last month the family won a High Court battle when University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust agreed to pay a substantial undisclosed settlement to Mrs Korkmaz’s children.
Mrs Sillitoe said: ‘Tracey and the children lived with me in south west London before her death in 2008 and we were a great team, with the children being our focus and priority.
‘I have tried to keep that going now she has gone. Things will never be the same again and nothing will turn back the clock but Tracey’s death cannot be in vain.
‘The settlement for the children means they can now pursue their dreams, such as going to university and enjoying the hobbies they love.
‘These are things that Tracey worked so hard to try and provide for them. It won’t bring her back, but knowing they have financial security to begin to move on with their lives provides some comfort.’
Happier times: Mrs Korkmaz with her mother June in 2007. Last month University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (pictured) agreed to pay a substantial undisclosed settlement to Mrs Korkmaz's children
The High Court judge praised Mrs Sillitoe for her devotion to caring for her grandchildren at the settlement approval hearing in London.
Now, after winning her battle for justice, calling for University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to prove lessons have been learnt to prevent anymore ‘needless’ deaths.
Mrs Sillitoe said: ‘We had so many questions about why Tracey died and while the inquest and admission of liability answered some of these, I want proof that the hospital trust has done something to make sure the mistakes made can never happen again.’
This follows a coroner’s request that the National Patient Safety Register investigate the trust after three deaths at University College Hospital between January and June 2008 following different routine operations.
A verdict of death by accidental adverse healthcare event was given at the inquest into Tracey’s death in September 2008 at St Pancras Coroners Court.
Holly Young, a medical law expert at Irwin Mitchell’s London office, representing the family said: ‘This is a tragic case that has seen three children lose their mum at an age when they were still very reliant on her.
‘The inquests into Tracey’s and two other needless deaths after operations at the University College Hospital were held on the same day and the coroner urged the National Patient Safety Register and other health authorities to investigate how mistakes were allowed to happen.
'June, Tracey’s children and other patients now need proof that these mistakes have been identified and learnt from to prevent any further tragedies.
‘It’s bad enough that Tracey’s stomach was punctured but for it then to not be properly identified and repaired causing irreparable damage is simply not acceptable. We have repeatedly called for patient safety to be the top priority across the NHS and mistakes like these should not be happening.’