Woman tells of despair after hysterectomy left her infertile

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A WOMAN seeking damages from a health authority to fund a surrogate child yesterday described her "shame and despair" after a hysterectomy left her barren when she was 20.

Margaret Patricia Briody, 46, told the High Court of her "miserable years" after she found out she could never have a child. St Helens and Knowsley Health Authority was found last year to have acted negligently after Ms Briody underwent two still births and an emergency hysterectomy.

Answering questions from Sally Smith QC, who was representing the health authority, Ms Briody told how, after her second child was stillborn, her husband, Raymond Moore, stopped treating her with sympathy and started going out to get drunk. "I had the most desperate feelings of despair and misery over a very long period," she said. "I avoided going to the doctor because I didn't want anyone to know I was embarrassed and ashamed because I had been rendered infertile," she said.

After the hysterectomy, she was badly injured in a fight at the pub that her husband ran, and spent six months in a wheelchair until a back operation restored her ability to walk.

Ms Briody, who now works in a school in St Helens, said that it was her marriage which stopped her fulfilling her ambitions for so long, not the hysterectomy. But, she added, "the reason I did not return to college after the second birth was because I lost my confidence.

"It took a lot of courage to change my life. If it had not been for the hysterectomy, I would have trained to be a teacher in 1980 [instead of 10 years later]".

Ms Briody wants to pay a private clinic to try to fertilise her eggs with her present partner's sperm. A woman in California has agreed to carry her child and will be paid her expenses, loss of earnings and travelling costs.