The family of a 10-year-old Winnipeg girl who died following a minor surgical procedure last month says it has received a formal apology from health officials today.

Ashuza Halisi died on March 13, less than two days after she underwent surgery at the Maples Surgical Centre to repair an umbilical hernia.


Ashuza Halisi, 10, had surgery done on March 11 to repair an umbilical hernia. She died of complications from the surgery on March 13. (Family photo)

Her parents had been demanding a formal apology from the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and the surgeon who performed the procedure on Ashuza.

That apology came on Thursday, following a meeting between the Halisi family, the WHRA, the Maples Surgical Centre and the surgeon.

In a statement emailed by the WRHA to media outlets late in the afternoon, Ashuza's parents said they have accepted "a formal written and verbal apology following the circumstances that took her life."

In the WRHA's apology to the parents, president and CEO Arlene Wilgosh wrote that officials "are fully aware of how the interactions you had with the 'system' as you struggled to deal with your grief only compounded your sense of loss. For that, we again are truly sorry.

"We hope you will find some solace from the fact that we are striving to learn from your experiences and will continue to share your story with our staff as an example of the importance of reaching out to families with timely, appropriate and sensitive communications following such a tragedy," she added.

Death deemed accidental

Manitoba's chief medical examiner has ruled Ashuza's death as accidental.

An autopsy confirmed that her death was caused by an infection from a perforation in her small bowel, likely due to complications from the surgery.

"While the Chief Medical Examiner's investigation was not able to identify exactly what caused the perforation that resulted in the death of your daughter, he was very clear that — absent any other explanation — an accidental surgical complication is the only logical cause," Wilgosh wrote.

"We acknowledge his findings and want you to know how sorry we are that the surgical accident occurred."

The health authority has asked a pediatric surgeon from outside Manitoba to examine its review of Ashuza's death and make recommendations if necessary.

"We are open to receiving the findings of the expert review when they become available," the Halisi family statement read in part.

The family will not make any further comment on the matter, according to the statement.

Family statement and WRHA apology

Below is the full statement from Ashuza Halisi's parents, Willy Halisi and Ephemie Nyelele. The written apology from the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority is on the second page.