Colin Hendry's tribute at wife's inquest

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Footballer Colin Hendry today described his wife as "beautiful inside and out" at the inquest into her death.

Mr Hendry, 45, the former captain of Scotland, who also played for Rangers and Blackburn Rovers, described his wife Denise as he re-lived her agonising seven-year battle with illness following disastrous cosmetic surgery in 2002.

The couple, who lived in Lytham St Annes, Lancs, had been together for 25 years and had four children, Rheagan, Kyle, Calum and Niamh, Bolton Coroner's Court heard.

But on April 10, 2002 she was punctured in the bowel nine times during "routine" liposuction surgery performed by Dr Gustaf Aniansson, at the private Broughton Park Hospital near Preston, Lancs.

Mrs Hendry then underwent a series of operations to correct the damage but never fully recovered her health.

She died, aged 43, on July 10, 2009.

Mr Hendry told the inquest that after his wife was transferred to an NHS hospital following the operation, the injuries were examined by other doctors, who were left "extremely disgusted".

"About what they had found, from someone in private cosmetic surgery," Mr Hendry added.

"They were pretty much mad, to think that that could have happened to somebody."

One doctor tried to report Dr Aniansson to the General Medical Council to get him struck off, but he was "a step in front" Mr Hendry said, and voluntarily removed himself from the British medical register in 2003.

Dr Aniansson, who is believed to be still practising abroad, had been notified of the hearing, coroner Jennifer Leeming told the inquest, but is out of the country so she had no powers to order him to attend.

He was, in any event, "not intending to avail himself of the opportunity" to give evidence, she added.

Mrs Hendry underwent what was normally a "straightforward and simple" liposuction procedure at the private clinic but after suffering the nine perforations of her bowel was transferred to the Royal Preston Hospital two days later, where she remained until July 30, at times "gravely ill".

After being discharged she then underwent a number of operations to deal with the consequences of the botched plastic surgery, the inquest heard.

Mrs Hendry had suffered a number of infections to the wire mesh covering what was described by her husband as an "open wound".

In October 2007 Mrs Hendry had a further operation at the Royal Preston Hospital, conducted by surgeon Jeyaram Srinivasan.

The op was to take muscle tissue from the patient's leg to build up her stomach muscle.

But during that procedure Mrs Hendry suffered a further perforation to her bowel and complications with her leg, the inquest heard.

She remained in hospital until Christmas of 2007, but her life by then was affected "enormously", Mr Hendry said.

Finally Mrs Hendry underwent another operation, lasting 16 hours, at the Salford Royal Hospital, on April 22, 2009 and initially her condition was good.

"I think everyone was extremely happy," Mr Hendry said.

"We were pretty much content with what had been conducted. At times it looked as if everything was working to plan."

But on May 6, 2009 Mr Hendry was given the news that his wife was again in a serious condition.

Mr Hendry said he was told she needed surgery to relieve the pressure that had built up on her brain.

"She is gravely ill," he added. "Death is a strong, strong possibility.

"It was just incredible after everything she's come through and battled, to be in this stage again, it was incredible."

Despite more neurosurgery, doctors eventually told Mr Hendry there was no more hope for her survival and she died at Salford Royal Hospital on July 10, 2009.

The coroner read out a short written statement from Dr Aniansson, dated May 10 last year, in which he described his surgery on Mrs Hendry as "uneventful".

He told the court she had contacted the Broughton Park Hospital in early 2002, asking about procedures to remove excess fat from the abdominal area.

"I explained liposuction was the appropriate procedure and explained the risks involved and the risks of the procedure," he said.

After a number of meetings with him and other hospital staff, Aniansson said Mrs Hendry decided to go ahead with the procedure and she was booked in for April 10.

He said the operation took place at 2.45pm and lasted around an hour. Two incisions were made, in the navel area and around the pubic area, and around 2.5 litres of fat was removed.

Dr Aniansson said: "Following the procedure I was satisfied the surgery had proceeded uneventfully."

He said Mrs Hendry was treated with morphine for pain relief and, later, she suffered nausea and vomiting which he attributed to the effects of general anaesthetic.

By the following day she was recovering normally and he was "not unduly concerned" about her condition, he added.

Mrs Hendry began to deteriorate later that day, the inquest heard, and staff at Broughton Park were sufficiently worried to have her moved to the Royal Preston Hospital.

Dr Aniansson said he was not informed when her condition deteriorated.

Dr Peter Bunting, consultant anaesthetist at the Royal Preston Hospital, told the court Mrs Hendry was taken straight to its High Dependency Unit.

Doctors saw that her abdomen was "rigid" and decided to look inside to see what was wrong.

They found that the cavity created during the liposuction was contaminated with the contents of her bowel, Dr Bunting said.

He said the perforations in her bowel were a "direct consequence" of the plastic surgery.

Over the next few days she had an "extremely stormy course", he added.

"She was extremely sick with failing cardiovascular systems, respiratory systems and renal system," he said.

"Her liver was also involved and the first time I met Colin Hendry was to tell him there was a 90% chance that his wife would not survive."

Emergency surgery was carried out to close the leak in her bowel and the muscular infection caused by the contamination was treated with anti-biotics.

But the stabilisation of her condition was a slow process, he said.

Dr Bunting said Mrs Hendry spent two months in intensive care at the Royal Preston, during which time she had to undergo kidney dialysis, but "day by day" she improved.

On July 30 that year she was allowed home, albeit with numerous continuing medical problems, including the loss of her abdominal wall.

Asked by the coroner to give his opinion on the cause of Mrs Hendry's death, Dr Bunting said: "I feel the chain of events started on April 10 with that (liposuction) operation.

"Without that initial operation and the perforation of the bowel, she would not have been admitted into the intensive care unit at the Royal Preston Hospital."

Professor Gordon Carlson, lead surgeon at the National Intestinal Failure Unit, also based at Salford Royal Hospital, agreed with the coroner that the start of the chain of events leading to Mrs Hendry's death was the liposuction operation.

Prof Carlson could not say why the surgery to repair the liposuction operation at the Royal Preston Hospital did not work but even with the best care sometimes it does fail and the patient was in a "very difficult" situation.

Stephen Jones, the solicitor representing Mr Hendry, asked how it was possible a surgeon could puncture a bowel nine times during liposuction.

Prof Carlson said he had never performed such an operation, but putting a "large, relatively sharp" instrument under the skin could puncture several "loops" of the bowel if pushed too deep.

The inquest heard suggestions that infection of the wound while Mrs Hendry was in hospital may have led to her death.

Prof Carlson told the hearing: "We had no problems with wound infection."