A husband's heartache after losing his nurse wife to Covid-19

Click here to watch a report by ITV News Anglia reporter Graham Stothard

A coroner today delivered a narrative verdict at the inquest of a 28-year-old nurse, who died with coronavirus less than a week after giving birth.

Emma Whitting said: “Mary Agyapong died after contracting Covid-19 but it remained unclear where and when her exposure to the virus had occurred.”

Mary died on April 12th last year at the start of the first wave of the pandemic, five days after the birth of her daughter by emergency caesarean section at Luton and Dunstable Hospital.

She had admitted to hospital with breathing difficulties on April 5, but was discharged later that day - something she was unhappy with - and was readmitted two days later with coronavirus symptoms, at 35 weeks' pregnant.

Surgeons safely delivered the baby, also named Mary, by Caesarean section before Ms Agyapong was transferred to the intensive care unit on April 8, where she died four days later.

Her widow Ernest Boateng had earlier told the inquest he strongly believed his wife contracted coronavirus while at work, and also questioned why she was discharged from hospital on April 5 with a course of antibiotics, despite having coronavirus symptoms.

Mary and her husband, Ernest Credit: Family photo

Other medical staff told the coroner they were satisfied with the care provided to Ms Agyapong, and said her condition deteriorated rapidly.

Dr Deborah Shaw, an intensive care consultant who saw Ms Agyapong the day after she gave birth, said: "I was very happy with the level of care she was getting."

Dr Muhammad Peerbhoy, a consultant physician who saw the patient the same day, added: "In my opinion, I think the treatment was proportionate."

The coroner said she had not been pointed to any systemic failures at the hospital, and suggested it may not be possible to conclude the circumstances in which Ms Agyapong contracted Covid-19.

Following the end of the inquest Mr Boateng said

The coroner called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to press ahead with a public inquiry into the pandemic “as soon as practicable” as she expressed her own condolences to Ms Agyapong’s family.

David Carter, Chief Executive for Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“Mary was a highly valued and loved member of our team and a fantastic nurse, and we still feel her loss.

 “We are reassured that the Coroner has found no areas of concern regarding our support for, or care of Mary, and I would like to pay tribute to our staff who did everything they could for Mary in hugely challenging circumstances.”

A crowdfunding campaign for Ms Agyapong's two children, set up after her death, has now raised almost £200,000 to date.