British Woman’s Case Prompts Pregnancy Tests Before Major Surgeries

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 27, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 27
, 2006

Washington, DC ( — The case of a British woman has prompted a hospital to enact a new policy requiring that any women having a hysterectomy or other major invasive surgery to have a pregnancy test beforehand. Needing a hysterectomy for medical reasons, the woman was found to have been 11 weeks pregnancy after her womb was removed.

Pauline King of Manchester, England never thought she would become pregnant.

In her 20s, King was told she had a blocked Fallopian tube that would prevent her from getting pregnant. But when she got married in 2002, the now 42 year-old woman considered her husband’s request to have children.

"An internal camera scan, called a laparoscopy, revealed that my blocked tube had magically unblocked itself over the years, so we threw away the contraception and started trying for a family," she wrote in an editorial in the London Mirror newspaper.

The couple had no luck and in June 2005, a visit to a doctor for abdominal pain found scar tissue from an appendix operation years before covering her right ovary and she also had an enlarged womb. Doctors recommended a hysterectomy.

"It was a shock but he made it clear that it was unlikely I would ever have children anyway and this at least would stop the pain. It was upsetting to consider going through with the operation — in my mind I’d always imagined I’d be a mummy one day, but it simply hadn’t happened for me," King wrote.

When she completed the questionnaire before the surgery, she checked "no" when asked if she might be pregnant, despite not having a period for the last three months.

After the surgery, the doctor came into her hospital room and told her the bad news.

"It didn’t seem real. Pregnant, me? And then the realization that my baby was dead, gone. And I’d never have the chance to be a mother again," she wrote in the Mirror.

"The nurse tried to comfort me, but I was hysterical by now. They had taken my baby from me — the baby they said I’d never have," she said.

"Looking back, one small pregnancy test on my urine and they would have known the truth," Kind wrote.

The hospital will now conduct pregnancy tests on all women considering major surgeries involving their reproductive areas, including hysterectomies.

King’s case presents a potential problem of what she calls an "unauthorized abortion" and is something women having surgeries and doctors and hospitals doing them may increasingly consider.