A MUM-to-be who suffered a fatal stroke while pregnant was not warned about the high risks of her pregnancy by an IVF clinic, an inquest has ruled.

Demi Richards, 31, died after suffering “relatively uncommon” complications following privately funded fertility treatment at Bourn Hall Fertility Clinic.

The Laindon mum’s pregnancy was deemed to be “extremely high-risk” due to her pre-existing high blood pressure and type one diabetes – which she had suffered since the age of three.

Echo: Demi RichardsDemi Richards (Image: Family handout)

Bourn Hall has stated a review has been carried out since Demi’s death and “learning identified”.

An inquest into her death, held at Chelmsford Coroner’s Court and overseen by area coroner Sean Horstead, found the “serious risks to her life involved in her becoming pregnant” had “not been explained to her in detail”.

The narrative conclusion of the inquest, held between May 13 and May 21, stated “her fully informed consent specifying in clear terms the risk to both her and her baby, in the context of her complex medical history” had not been obtained.

The inquest heard Demi died during the 31st week of her pregnancy but her baby, named Beau, was delivered successfully by C-section.

The exceptionally high risks of the pregnancy were not “discussed in detail” with Demi until the 18th week of her pregnancy and an NHS plan was put in place to deliver her baby between 32 and 34 weeks.

Echo: Demi RichardsDemi Richards (Image: Family handout)

This was to “balance the risks to the mother against the benefits to the unborn baby”.

In a statement following the inquest, Demi’s mother Gill, father Orin and sister Loren said: “It breaks our hearts that Demi never met her beautiful son, Beau, and that he won’t get to know his wonderful, kind, and caring mummy.

“The loss we feel as a family is immense and the pain we feel is impossible to describe. Demi lit up our world and the fact that she was taken from us too soon and so unnecessarily has left us all devastated.

“We will never stop grieving for Demi. Nothing will bring Demi back, but we want answers to why she died and why her concerns regarding her health were not addressed.”

Dr Thanos Papathanasiou, CEO of Bourn Hall Clinic, expressed his sadness over the death of Demi and says the clinic has “identified learning”. 

He said: “It was with great sadness that we heard of the death of Ms Richards when she was under the care of the NHS and in the final trimester of her pregnancy. Our thoughts are with her partner, family and friends at this difficult time.

 “Bourn Hall Clinic has undertaken a review of the care that was provided, and any identified learning has been incorporated into our policies and practices. Currently private medical clinics do not have automatic access to NHS medical records nor the multi-disciplinary teams within the NHS that care for these patients.

"The NHS has recently issued a new ‘Maternal medicine networks: service specification’ to improve the care of women with complex medical issues that pre-date or arise in pregnancy.

"We welcome this development and recommend that, where a woman with a complex medical condition is planning assisted conception, her fertility consultant should also be part of the multi-disciplinary team managing her care.”

Demi’s family are considering a civil case over her death.

Stephanie Prior, Head of Clinical Negligence at Osbornes Law, who represented the family, said: “This is a tragic case. Demi died too young. She never got a chance to hold her baby and he will never be held by his mother because she died after being failed by those caring for her. This has left her family grief-stricken. Demi’s family are looking for answers and we will pursue their desire to get justice for Demi through the civil courts.”

Nicholas Leahy, from Osbornes Law, added: “The coroner found that the Bourn Hall Fertility Clinic did not gain informed consent from Demi prior to her undergoing IVF, as was their duty to do so, in particular in relation to the very serious risks associated with any pregnancy which arose following such treatment. Not only this, but they failed to take steps to obtain further information about Demi’s pre-existing medication conditions, which was available to them at all times had they made any enquiries. Bourn Hall have committed to changing their practices moving forward, and it is to be hoped that this leads to a vast improvement in the level of care which is given to those presenting for privately funded IVF with serious pre-existing health conditions. Tragically this will not bring Demi back, but these changes can save lives in future.”