Sons of former Gosport & Fareham Rugby Club captain say 'support not there' for dad who died after alcohol battle

SONS of a former Gosport rugby captain told an inquest how the ‘support was not there’ for their father who died ‘suddenly’ after a long-term battle with alcoholism.

By Steve Deeks
Sunday, 30th August 2020, 7:00 am

Andrew Gamblin, 56, collapsed at his Gosport home on November 1, 2018, before being rushed to Queen Alexandra Hospital in a critical state before going into cardiac arrest.

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Despite desperate attempts to save the former Gosport & Fareham Rugby Club first team captain, he suffered massive internal bleeding after a last-ditch attempt to save him failed, Portsmouth Coroner’s Court heard.

Andy 'Gabby' Gamblin, former captain of Gosport & Fareham RFC. Picture: Gosport & Fareham RFC

Tests showed Mr Gamblin, who smoked, ‘faced inevitable death’ after doctors found blood clots in his chest - known as pulmonary emboli.

With time running out, clinicians decided to give the dad-of-two a ‘high risk’ blood-thinning drug known as thrombolysis despite the possible fatal consequences when giving it to a patient with liver cirrhosis like Mr Gamblin.

Despite an ‘initial improvement’ sadly Mr Gamblin quickly declined before dying.

It left Mr Gamblin’s sons, Daniel and Josh, being dealt the devastating blow after both had just become parents themselves.

Josh said: ‘I had only just become a dad myself a week before and then I’m there with my dad and they are saying we need to turn off the life support machine.’

He added: ‘It was a very long and ongoing process from when he was ill to very ill and then having seizures before going into hospital and then suddenly dying.

‘Was there any more we as a family could have done? Anything would probably just have been a stop-gap.’

Daniel said: ‘My dad was a very particular man. I saw him a few years ago and realised he was very ill and one year later after my son had been born he died.

‘He drank and smoked and we knew he was ill but we didn’t know he was severely ill.

‘My father was an alcoholic - we tried to get support for him but felt the support was not there.’

Referring to an occasion when Daniel rang Mr Gamblin’s doctor after he was unwell, the son said: ‘I rang the doctor who was very off-ish and just said, “he needs to stop drinking”. It was like she was just saying “see you later”.

‘I found her very rude and abrupt. My dad would never have rung anyone for help - he was an old-fashioned man like that.’

Area coroner Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp, responding to the comment, said: ‘It comes across that you were given the brush-off but it is not uncommon in these circumstances.’

She added: ‘Understanding addiction is somewhat lacking and is a complex issue. Until you address the root cause you can’t cure the addiction.’

The coroner went on to say how an investigation was conducted at the hospital because they ‘didn’t know what he died of’ at first.

Ms Rhodes-Kemp also revealed how ‘notes went missing’ at the hospital but assured the sons it did not mean anything ‘sinister’ had taken place. ‘This was reviewed by so many departments and someone probably did not put the notes back in the right place,’ she said.

‘But not having those notes is not detrimental to what I need to look at.’

Consultant Mark Rowland, one of the doctors who fought to save Mr Gamblin, said in the hospital’s mortality review, they were left with no choice but to administer the drug thrombolysis following the cardiac arrest.

‘It was a difficult decision but a necessary decision and correct despite the outcome,’ he said.

Professor Beverley Hunt, a liver specialist who was asked to look at the review by the coroner, said: ‘It was an extremely difficult decision and many would argue that the patient would definitely have died anyway so was appropriate to try the drug but this led to massive internal bleeding.’

Pathologist Brett Lockyer admitted it was ‘very dangerous’ and a ‘risk’ to give a patient with liver disease thrombolysis - before confirming death from a ‘massive haemorrhage’ after administration of the drug.

However, Ms Rhodes-Kemp said it ‘would be difficult to argue the clinicians didn’t do the right thing’ after Mr Gamblin faced ‘inevitable death’ from the pulmonary embolism. She did admit, though, it was ‘not clear why he got the pulmonary emboli’.

Recording a narrative verdict, Ms Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp, said: ‘The deceased died as a result of necessary treatment of a life threatening condition.

‘He was admitted to the hospital and found to have multiple pulmonary emboli. He was given thrombolysis which carries a risk of haemorrhage and died of intestinal bleeding shortly afterwards.’

A tribute to Mr Gamblin, posted on the Gosport & Fareham Rugby Club’s website following his death, said ‘Gabby’ was a ‘stalwart’ of the club who played for the colts in the late 1970s before making his first senior appearance in 1980.

‘I (Alan Foulger), then captain of the 2nd XV, was a player short before kick-off and spotted Gabby loitering on the touchline,’ the article said.

‘I quickly found him some shorts and boots and recruited him as wing forward, even though he had only played as a hooker in the colts. He played well that day and was let off having to pay the £1 match fee.

Mr Gamblin went on to captain the first team in 1991/92 and 1995/96 - when the club made its first ever appearance in the Hampshire Cup final.

Despite losing to Havant in the final ‘Gos’ were handed a tie in the first round of the National Pilkington Cup as Havant had already qualified. Despite stepping down from captaincy the following season, Gabby had the ‘honour’ of leading the team out against national league side Weston-Super-Mare for the final time in the competition.

The tribute added: ‘Gabby’ was a great stalwart of the club and that tradition is carried on by his brother Brett and sons Dan and Josh.’

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