'Brave' Chester woman died after complications from gastric band surgery

Kathleen Wheatley was referred for surgery after weight gain caused by lobotomy

Countess of Chester Hospital, Chester(Image: Trinity Mirror Cheshire)

A courageous Chester woman died from a series of complications after gastric band surgery, an inquest has heard.

For decades Kathleen Wheatley had been unable to lose weight because of the side effects of a lobotomy.

She passed away at the Countess of Chester Hospital after almost four months in the critical care unit on August 30, 2015.

Mrs Wheatley, 65, of Shepherd's Lane, Newton, suffered multi organ failure caused by severe sepsis.

Her ‘devoted’ husband of more than 40 years Graham had stood by her throughout.

'Very brave'

An inquest into her death was held at Chester Magistrates Court on January 17.

Cheshire assistant coroner Dr Janet Napier said: “Mrs Wheatley was a very brave lady and Mr Wheatley you are obviously a devoted husband.

“I really, really feel for you as you have both been through this nightmare.”

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Mrs Wheatley, née Walker, was born in Manley in 1949. She met painter and decorator Graham in 1970 and they married two years later.

To treat her severe anxiety she underwent electroshock therapy in 1971 and a lobotomy in 1979.

Mrs Wheatley put on weight following the procedure as she developed an over-active thyroid gland as a side effect.

After years of trying to diet and get fitter at the gym, the retired housekeeper was referred for a gastric band in 2013. Mr Wheatley said his wife would ‘eat 500 calories a day just to stay the same weight’.

He said: “You can imagine how desperate you get when you try all these diets but it doesn’t work.

“I think she did marvellously well to keep it as she did.”

A six-month intensive weight loss plan failed to help, so she was approved for the bariatric surgery in April 2014.

Initially there were no complications and Mrs Wheatley lost more than three stone, but she reported suffering from bloating and stomach problems in November.

An examination found she had developed an ulcer, which happens in two to 10 % of gastric band patients, in her intestine. Doctors at the Countess chose to treat it with tablets rather than ‘risky’ surgery.

Consultant surgeon Mr David Monk said: “This was an extremely complex case.

“Our decision making was based on what we thought was the best for Mrs Wheatley at every outcome.”

Mrs Wheatley was taken to the Countess’s A & E suffering from abdominal pain which was ‘worse than childbirth’ in February 2015.

Surgeons were able to repair a perforation in her intestine, but further surgery was held back until she was in a better condition.

The 65-year-old had to go back to hospital a month later with stomach problems, vomiting and an irregular heartbeat.

Mrs Wheatley went into cardiac arrest after contents of her stomach got into her lungs on April 3.

Despite being resuscitated, from then on she remained in the critical care unit as her condition worsened until her sad death on August 30.

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Dr Napier described it as an ‘agonising’ time for the couple.

A post mortem examination found a number of her organs were affected by a severe infection.

Bariatric surgery expert Professor David Kerrigan said: “When people are critically ill there is just a slow breakdown in their condition.

“It was a gradual decline. Eventually she would take one step forward and two steps back.”

The coroner recorded a narrative verdict. Dr Napier said: “Mrs Wheatley’s death was due to natural causes in combination with the effects of obesity likely caused by a lobotomy and the complications of necessary surgical treatment.”

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