Boy’s death was highly unusual, inquest told

Matthew Kenway died at Southampton General Hospital
Matthew Kenway died at Southampton General Hospital

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DOCTORS say the death of a four-year-old boy from Fareham was ‘highly unusual’.

The highly complex circumstances surrounding the death of Matthew Kenway have been the subject of a two-day long inquest.

The court heard how Matthew, who suffered from a type of muscular dystrophy, died at Southampton General Hospital in the early hours of December 16, 2010.

He had been admitted to the high dependency unit after an operation on his kidney.

Doctors thought that Matthew was ‘recovering well’ after the operation.

Dr Nicola Trevelyan, a paediatric consultant, told the court: ‘There did not appear to be any signs and no indications that Matthew was deteriorating.

‘People that knew him very well, such as his doctor and his parents, had thought he was very well that evening.

‘I think his death came as a bolt out of the blue which makes it very difficult to understand why it happened.’

The court heard how Matthew had been sitting up in bed, watching DVDs and interacting with the nurses on duty hours before his death.

When Matthew went into cardiac arrest, there was a delay of between 10 and 20 minutes in putting out a ‘crash call’ to summon staff to start resuscitation.

The nurse on duty that night, Lyndsey Menendez, told the court on Thursday that she initially thought the machine monitoring Matthew was faulty as his ventilator was still working.

An unqualified nurse also ‘ran’ to fetch a doctor, instead of following hospital protocol and putting out a ‘crash call’, which would have summoned a team of people.

Dr Kate McCombe, who attended the crash call, was questioned as to whether the delay could have been crucial to saving Matthew’s life.

She said: ‘Put very simply - yes.

‘Although, it depends on the underlying causes of the cardiac arrest, some can be irrecoverable.

‘In broad terms we are more likely to resuscitate someone if we recognise the cardiac arrest earlier.’

The coroner will consider whether the cardiac arrest was caused by the misplacement of a stent following Matthew’s kidney operation or by a condition called malignant hypothermia which is linked to Matthew’s genetic condition and the anaesthetics used during the operation.

He will also consider the impact of the possible 20 minute delay in Matthew’s resuscitation.

The coroner will deliver a narrative verdict on Monday, February 4.