The family of a 33-year-old Greek mother who died at Larnaca General Hospital have called authorities to look into the woman’s suspicious death, asking for another autopsy.
Philio Balafa-Lekka was the mother of two children aged 3 and 6; she had recently moved to Cyprus with her family from Greece.
The woman’s cause of death remains unknown despite an autopsy carried out last week, with medical examiners waiting on the histopathological and toxicological samples.
Her family has requested a second autopsy in the presence of a medical examiner representing them while also requesting authorities probe actions taken by the medical staff at Larnaca General.
The mother was taken twice to Larnaca General’s Accident and Emergency (A&E) department in the days before her death, the last being last Wednesday morning when she died.
On her second visit, the woman was asked to wait two and a half hours outside the hospital due to COVID regulations.
When she was finally allowed in, doctors told the woman and her husband that MRI scans had revealed that she had thrombosis in the abdomen and had to be admitted to the ICU to be intubated.
In the afternoon, her husband was called by the hospital’s doctors, who informed him that his wife had not responded to treatment. Later in the day, he was told that she had died.
Cyprus police intervened, went through the woman’s medical record, and interviewed the doctors who had seen her at Larnaca General and a private doctor who had examined her days before.
There is speculation of a possible link to COVID vaccines, as the woman had recently been vaccinated against coronavirus while she had a history of thrombosis.
The family’s lawyer, Andriana Klaedes, told Phileleftheros daily the woman had a history of thrombophilia and was vaccinated against COVID-19 some 20 days before her death.
She said the woman had sought medical help from Larnaca General A&E after one of her fingers had turned black, “only to be given a Panadol and sent home”.
In the following days, she had developed COVID-19 symptoms.
She had visited a private doctor who told her she may have contracted COVID-19 and asked her to stay in touch.
The Health Ministry has already launched its probe into the matter.
The ministry’s permanent secretary Christina Yiannaki told Phileleftheros she had invited the family to her office to get their side of the story.
She said that a specialist on histopathological examinations had been called from the UK.
Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas told reporters: “According to data at hand, the woman’s death is not related to the vaccine, but we would like to hear what the family has to say”.
Meanwhile, the state doctors’ union PASYKI lashed out at staff shortages at state hospitals, saying it increases the chances of negative outcomes while treating patients.
PASYKI called on the State Health Services Organisation (OKYPY) to “reveal the real reasons behind the understaffing of hospitals and assume its responsibilities”.
“The understaffing of hospitals has nothing to do with the ongoing pandemic, nor is the argument vacancies advertised will someday be filled.
“The continuous departure of doctors and the limited interest from doctors to fill the vacancies, with those who do come onboard lacking the necessary experience, should not only trouble authorities, but it should terrify them.”