Hopes for answers as inquest to be held into deaths of new mums who contracted herpes after giving birth at East Kent hospitals

Kim Sampson (pictured after the previous birth of her daughter) died aged just 29

The family of a mum who died after contracting a herpes infection shortly after giving birth have revealed their hope that an inquest will provide them with answers nearly five years after her death.

Kim Sampson, of Whitstable, died aged 29 in May 2018 after developing the infection shortly after her baby boy was delivered by caesarean section at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate.

Six weeks later, 32-year-old nursery nurse Samantha Mulcahy also died from an infection caused by the same virus, at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford. She had also undergone a caesarean.

The hospitals are run by East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust.

Originally it was said that no inquest would be held into their deaths. However, at the end of 2021 it was announced there would be a joint hearing to examine how Kim, who also had a daughter, and Samantha died.

Following several pre-inquest review hearings – one of which was told it was believed that the same surgeon and midwife were involved in Kim and Samantha’s care – a full inquest into their deaths is now due to take place.

Kim’s family, including her mother Yvette Sampson, 53, have instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help establish answers and support them through the hearing.

Anna Vroobel, the specialist medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Kim’s family, said: “Approaching five years on, Yvette and the rest of the family remain devastated by Kim’s death and the incredibly tragic circumstances surrounding it.

“Understandably they have a number of concerns about the events that unfolded not only during Kim’s labour and her son’s delivery but also in the lead up to Kim’s death, and whether more could have been done to save her.

“Not knowing all of the facts about what happened to Kim has made trying to grieve for her all the harder. While nothing can make up for the hurt and pain the family are going through, the inquest is a major milestone in being able to provide Kim’s loved ones with the vital answers they deserve.

“We continue to support Kim’s family at this upsetting time as well as other families with concerns about maternity care at East Kent Hospitals. If during the course of the hearing any care issues are identified in Kim’s care, it’s vital that lessons are learned to improve patient safety.”

Yvette said: “Kim’s laughter and her smile were infectious. She was a wonderful, kind hearted and loving daughter. She was also a fantastic mum to her two children. It’s difficult to put into words the devastation and impact the loss of Kim has had on our family. It has left us absolutely heartbroken.

“I look at her children every day and, although they bring so much joy, there is also great sadness that Kim is not around to watch her children grow and see their daily achievements. It gives me such a heavy heart that Kim’s children will never get to grow up with their truly amazing mummy. Kim would be so proud of them and how they are developing. Her children will always know how much she loved them.

“While time has moved on since Kim’s death it’s stood still for our family. Kim had her life ahead of her and not knowing why she died is the hardest thing to try and come to terms with. We’d do anything to have her back in our lives but we know that’s not possible.

“I’ve fought to have this inquest because of the many questions around how Kim contracted the herpes virus and the conflicting information I feel I’ve received from the Trust.

“I know the inquest and listening to the evidence surrounding Kim’s death is going to be incredibly upsetting but it’s something we need to do to honour her memory and so that we can explain to her children when they’re older.”

An inquest into Kim’s and Samantha’s deaths is due to take place at the Shepway Centre in Maidstone between 27 February and 3 March.