THE wife of former Bolton Wanderers footballer Colin Hendry died from meningitis after a tragic "chain of events" stemming from a botched liposuction operation, a coroner ruled today.
Denise Hendry, aged 43, whose husband was nicknamed "Braveheart" as captain of Scotland, endured an agonising seven-year battle with illness after the disastrous cosmetic surgery procedure in April 2002, Bolton Coroner's Court heard.
Her family and friends had been, "cruelly and tragically" deprived of a special person and herself "robbed" of life, the inquest heard.
The mother-of-four suffered punctures to her bowel nine times during the "routine" surgery performed by foreign doctor Gustaf Aniansson, at the private Broughton Park Hospital near Preston, Lancashire.
It left Mrs Hendry with terrible injuries to her stomach area and she had to have a series of operations to correct the damage.
And it was after one such "high risk" 16-hour operation at Salford Royal Hospital, when she died in July 2009, the inquest into her death heard.
Today Coroner Jennifer Leeming, gave a narrative verdict after two days of evidence.
Mrs Leeming said: "I come by my conclusion again on a balance of probabilities and the evidence before me.
"Denise Hendry died of a combination of necessary ventilation following complex abdominal surgery carried out to address the consequences of previous surgery that had been performed in an attempt to deal with the complications of necessary surgical procedures, following and required, because of nine perforations of Denise Hendry's bowel during her abdominal liposuction procedure."
Addressing Mr Hendry directly, she added: "The respect and admiration I feel for your wife Denise as a result of her immense courage and fortitude in dealing with what happened to her is beyond words.
"You, your children, Denise's parents and all of her family and friends have in my view been cruelly and tragically deprived of a very special person and Denise herself has been robbed of the life she so much enjoyed.
"Would you accept my most sincere condolences for her loss."
Mrs Leeming cited brain inflammation, blood clotting from a drain inserted into her head to relieve pressure and meningitis as the medical cause of death on Mrs Hendry's death certificate.
Doctors realised something was wrong with Mrs Hendry not long after her operation on April 22, 2009.
On May 5 there was a "sudden" neurological deterioration due to "Klebsiella Meningitis" rather than the more common "staph" strains of the brain infection.
Dr Chinari Subudhi, a microbiologist at the hospital, said he took samples from Mrs Hendry while she was in intensive care after the last 16-hour operation, on April 22, 2009.
Dr Subudhi said in his opinion a bacteria, Klebsiella, which can occur naturally in the gut, had spread from her stomach to her lungs and then to her brain.
He said the spread of the bug in the blood stream is common in critically ill patients who are on a ventilator, as was Mrs Hendry.
Outside the inquest Mr Hendry said he would not be commenting on the result.
His solicitor Stephen Jones said he could not rule out further legal action from the family.
Mr Hendry, 45, the former captain of Scotland who also played for Rangers and Blackburn Rovers, had described his late wife as, "beautiful inside and out" as he relived her agonising and tragic battle with illness.
The couple, who lived in Lytham, Lancashire, had been together for 25 years and had four children, Rheagan, Kyle, Calum and Niamh, and struggled through the health difficulties with courage despite a "terrible" quality of life for Mrs Hendry, the inquest heard.
Following the botched liposuction by Dr Aniansson, she was rushed to the Royal Preston Hospital where NHS medics were left "disgusted" Mr Hendry said, by the condition of his wife.
Dr Aniansson, who is believed to be still practising in his native Sweden, had been notified of the hearing, but did not attend and instead sent a written statement in which he described the operation as "uneventful".
In fact she was rushed into intensive care and from then on needed a series of operations to try to repair the damage.
One doctor tried to report Dr Aniansson to the General Medical Council to get him struck off, but he was "a step in front", Mr Hendry said, and voluntarily removed himself from the British medical register in 2003.
Mrs Hendry's abdominal wall had "died" and left a gaping open wound which had to be covered with a surgical mesh and required constant dressing and constant surgery.
Ultimately, the coroner ruled, it was the punctures to her abdomen from which she never fully recovered as it had started off the chain of events, including the repeated surgery to correct the damage.
Earlier Mr Hendry told the hearing: "To look at Denise, even when ill, she was beautiful.
"She did not let anybody really realise what was going on."
Elaine Burke, executive nurse director at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, where Mrs Hendry was treated, said: "Once again, we extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to Mr Hendry and his family.
"It's extremely sad when a young woman, like Mrs Hendry, who was a wife and mother, loses their life.
"All treatment and care that was provided to Mrs Hendry whilst she was a patient at Salford Royal was necessary and in line with Trust policies and national medical and nursing practice.
"Following our own investigations and that of the coroner's verdict, it has confirmed that Mrs Hendry did not die as a result of the care provided by Salford Royal.
"We welcome the coroner's verdict and we very much hope that the explanations provided by the inquest will reassure the family."