Parents describe how they feel let down by hospital

Leanne and Lee Shepherd
Leanne and Lee Shepherd

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THE heartbroken parents of a 22-month-old toddler who died on Christmas Day last year say they were ‘robbed’ of her future after failings by Queen Alexandra Hospital.

Anabelle Shepherd was responding well after a bone marrow transplant to treat for Hurler Syndrome, a genetic condition which would have eventually led to her death had she not received the transplant at Great Ormond Street.

Her parents, Lee and Leanne, say they were ‘excited’ thinking about the future she would be able to have, when she became uncharacteristically lethargic at their home in Bath Road, Southsea.

In a statement read out at an inquest into her death, Mr Shepherd said: ‘We are absolutely heartbroken and distraught by Anabelle’s death and not a moment goes by without the thought of seeing her little face again.

‘Even though she had Hurler Syndrome, the treatment meant she was going to have a good life.

‘To have her robbed from us at this stage in her life was cruel beyond words.’

In her statement, Mrs Shepherd added: ‘I am aware they have changed their practices in child care, but as much as this pleases me, as this could potentially save another child’s life, it is too late for Anabelle.

‘I feel she was let down by her home town, which robbed us of our daughter.’

The family is being represented by Dr John White, clinical negligence specialist from Blake Lapthorn solicitors, who questioned QA paediatric consultant Dr Simon Birch during the inquest at Hulse Road police station in Southampton.

He admitted there had been a gap in Anabelle’s care, but that also more effective communication with Great Ormond Street Hospital had been needed.

Anabelle’s parents say an incorrect diagnosis of gastroenteritis, delayed blood tests and a treatment with oral rather than intravenous antibiotics, meant her condition deteriorated, leading to a seizure and a transfer to the paediatric intensive care unit at Southampton General Hospital, where she died.

They say she could have been transferred earlier had basic tests been done sooner.

However, despite a postmortem being carried out, it was not clear whether a bacterial or viral infection was the root cause of her death. If viral, antibiotics would not have been effective.

In a statement read out at the inquest, her parents said she should have had more basic tests and been seen more regularly.

Earlier in his evidence, Dr Birch said: ‘Although we’re still not sure if it would have altered the outcome, it would at least have given more complete picture in Anabelle’s case.’

Coroner Keith Wiseman is due to give his decision on the case on October 10.