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`I feel guilty because I might have been able to save her'.

ARTHRITIS sufferer Margaret Banks is wracked with guilt over the death of a woman who suffered an angina attack after undergoing surgery for a botched knee operation.

Mrs Banks, 61, says she partly blames herself for the tragedy which befell Annie May Carter because she did not come forward publicly to complain of what she claims was a similar blunder.

Mrs Carter died on Saturday, August 31, days after being discharged from Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil, where she had to undergo a second operation because surgeons put a right knee joint in her left leg.

The hospital is awaiting the outcome of a coroner's inquest, which was opened and adjourned last Friday.

Meanwhile it has halted orthopaedic operations due to a shortage of surgical teams, unconnected with the pensioner's death. This was due to be reviewed a day before the Royal College of Surgeons carry out its own inquiry into the mix-up.

Mrs Banks told the Echo: ``I feel so guilty because I may have been able to save the lady.

But I felt so ill at the time that I wasn't well enough.''

Since Mrs Carter's story unfolded, Mrs Banks, from Caerphilly, has revealed she is also seeking legal advice after complications set in following her knee operation. She underwent surgery on August 28 last year almost a year to the day before Mrs Carter's operation on August 20. Still in pain months later, a scan showed her replacement joint was infected and she was referred to Llandough Hospital for revision surgery. During the second operation, Mrs Banks claims a consultant said that the false joint was too big and misplaced.

She also had to undergo a third operation and was on antibiotics for six months.

A spokesman for North Glamorgan NHS Trust at Prince Charles Hospital confirmed notification of legal action.

The Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan NHS Trust at Llandough Hospital was not aware of concerns before the media coverage and have received no complaint.

The suspension of operations at Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr was due to remain in force until today when the situation was to be reviewed again. Patients requiring orthopaedic surgery were being transferred to neighbouring trusts.
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 9, 2002
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