Agata † (2004) – Poland

Doctors Let Woman Die Rather Than Harm Her Fetus

Agata Lamczak died because doctors repeatedly refused to provide adequate treatment for her condition, with some citing “CO” and claiming that the treatments might harm the fetus.

Agata suffered from ulcerative colitis and gestational diabetes, but the doctors did everything they could not to treat her. It was even difficult for her to get a full diagnosis. When asked by her attending physician why he did not want to perform a full endoscopy he replied: “my conscience does not allow me”. The doctors refused to provide Agata with diagnostics and treatment because it could cause her to have a miscarriage, despite demands for effective treatment from her mother and fiancé regardless of the consequences for the fetus. Agata went on to suffer four months of agony, going from hospital to hospital in different cities, from where she was sent home and treated only symptomatically. Finally, she was admitted to a hospital where her appendix was removed, she suffered respiratory failure, and was diagnosed with septic shock and multiple organ failure. An ultrasound showed fetal demise so a cesarean section was performed. Her abdominal cavity and bronchial tree was filled with pus. Her condition continued to deteriorate and she died a few weeks later.

Agata’s mother filed a case at the European Court of Human Rights, but lost in 2012. The court claimed a lack of direct evidence linking Agata’s death with the negligent care.

However, the court completely overlooked these facts:

  • Agata’s pregnancy was the main reason she was often refused treatment or given inadequate treatment.
  • Colitis is entirely treatable and no-one should die from it.
  • Pregnant women under medical supervision should never be left at risk of sepsis, let alone get sick and die from it.

Center for Reproductive Rights (Polish)