Doctors will face questions over Anabelle’s death

INQUEST Anabelle Shepherd
INQUEST Anabelle Shepherd

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MEDICS at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham will be asked to explain their treatment of a 22-month-old toddler who died on Christmas Day last year.

Anabelle Shepherd died at Southampton General Hospital after being transferred from Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham the day before.

An inquest into her death reopened yesterday, and evidence was heard from both the consultant who treated her in Southampton General Hospital’s intensive care unit, and the pathologist who performed the post mortem examination.

Anabelle was admitted a month after receiving stem cell treatment for Hurler Syndrome, a condition caused by an enzyme deficiency which leads to complex sugars building up in the tissues of the organs. It is a genetic condition which, if left untreated, will be terminal.

Anabelle received a bone marrow transplant at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London to arrest the condition, but as part of the treatment her immune system had to be repressed and she had to have a Hickman Line fitted in her chest to enable blood samples to be taken easily and medication administered swiftly.

The inquest, at Hulse Road Police Station in Southampton, heard how inserting a Hickman Line can lead to a bacterial infection, especially in people like Anabelle, whose immune systems have been reduced to stop them rejecting transplanted bone marrow or other organs.

When Anabelle fell unwell at her home in Bath Road, Southsea, her parents, Lee and Leanne, took her to QA where she was treated with antibiotics.

However, paediatric pathologist Dr Samantha Holden said she discovered Anabelle had also had a virus, which could have lain dormant for months before flaring up before she died.

That in turn led to a condition called Haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) which causes some blood cells to attack the body, causing death.

Dr Holden recorded Anabelle’s cause of death as ‘Haemophagocytic Syndrome and infection in a child who had a bone marrow transplant to treat Hurler Syndrome’.

On Thursday the inquest will hear from Dr Simon Birch, consultant paediatrician at QA, and Dr Huw Jones, who compiled the final report into Anabelle’s treatment.

In a letter read out at the inquest, QA’s consultant paediatrician Dr Marie-Louise Millard, said: ‘We apologise for any deficiencies in care in this tragic case.’