An anaesthetist from Belgium has been sentenced to three years in prison after the death of a British woman resulting from a botched emergency C-section. Helga Wauters, 51 was found guilty of manslaughter during a court hearing in France on Thursday, for the death of Xynthia Hawke in 2014.
Hawke, 28 was admitted to Orthez hospital in September 2014 and was given an epidural by Wauters in anticipation of a normal birthing delivery. However, problems during the birth prompted an emergency Caesarean section.
Wauters was called back to the hospital for the C-section, and witnesses recalled smelling alcohol on her when she returned for the procedure.
Investigators said, while prepping Hawke for the C-section, Wauters had pushed a breathing tube into the patient's oesophagus instead of her windpipe and allegedly used an oxygen mask instead of a ventilator.
Wauters denied being solely responsible for the patient's death. She insisted the ventilator was not functioning at the time - but investigators said this was not true, the BBC reported.
Hawke, who is from Somerset in the UK, woke up during the operation and started vomiting and shouting "it hurts." She delivered the baby but suffered a cardiac arrest and died four days after giving birth. Hawke's baby boy survived the C-section.
In an earlier hearing, Wauters admitted to being a chronic alcoholic wherein she started each day with a drink of vodka mixed with water. She also said she had a glass of wine prior to returning to the hospital that day for the surgery. She was less than two weeks into the job when the incident happened after being fired from her previous job at a Belgian hospital for being under the influence of alcohol.
Sadly, the recruitment company that hired her failed to check her credentials or disciplinary record.
Upon her arrest, she was found to have an alcohol content of 2.38 grams per liter in her blood, which is equivalent to 10 glasses of wine.
Although Wauters was not present during the court hearing, her partner Yannick Balthazar travelled to the French city of Pau to attend the proceedings.
"Justice has set an example for this type of doctor who, in my eyes, is not a doctor," Balthazar said.
The court had ordered Wauters to pay almost £1.25 million in damages to Hawke's family