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Family fight for apology over hospital death of 11-week old baby

By Annamay McNally

Published 15/11/2016

Padraig Henry died in 2013
Padraig Henry died in 2013

A Co Antrim father, whose 11-week-old baby died after contracting the superbug E.coli in a leading children's hospital, has pledged to fight for a "proper apology" after "a catalogue of errors" in the little boy's care.

Padraig Henry, who was born at 27 weeks on April 25, 2003, was the first and only son of Kilrea couple Colin Henry and his partner Karen Bailey, who also has four daughters.

After his birth at Leighton Hospital in Crewe, England, medics noticed the baby's tummy was swollen and he was transferred to Liverpool Women's Hospital where, according to his dad, Padraig began to flourish and was feeding well in spite of his less than routine arrival into the world.

"I can't say a bad word about the care Padraig received while he was in Liverpool Women's Hospital," Colin told the Belfast Telegraph.

"He had gone from weighing less than two pounds to being nearly 10 pounds, and was thriving, even drinking his bottle."

After establishing that Padraig was suffering from a perforated bowel, an opening for surgery to repair the problem was identified and he was moved to Alder Hey for the procedure on July 4 that year.

But what the family didn't know was that, at the time Padraig was moved for the operation, there was an increased risk of an E.coli outbreak, and that preventative measures had been put in place there. Padraig's parents were not told about this risk, however, and doctors decided to continue with the non-urgent surgery despite the threat of the infant being exposed to the disease. Following the surgery, Padraig contracted E.coli but doctors failed to diagnose and treat it straight away.

Investigations by the team at medical negligence law firm Fletchers Solicitors found that doctors had lost a swab that would have highlighted the infection, and also failed to provide the vital antibiotics needed to treat the illness in time.

Padraig passed away eight days later on July 12, 2013, when the machines that were keeping him alive were switched off.

His heartbroken father, Colin, says the couple still don't know how they found the strength to get through the days and months which followed that devastating moment.

In a strange twist of fate, the day baby Padraig left this world was also the day that mum Karen was told she had become a grandmother for the first time.

"If we had known there was an outbreak of this infection in Alder Hey at the time the operation was to go ahead, Padraig would never have been near the place," Colin insists.

Alder Hey Children's Hospital NHS Foundation Trust admitted breach of duty in respect of Padraig's case in September, and paid compensation to the family.

But for Colin and Karen, money has never been a factor in their quest for answers about what happened to their little boy.

"The day they turned off Padraig's machine Karen found out she was a granny, then we had to go and tell the girls about what had happened to their brother.

"I still don't know how we got through it," Colin recalled.

"Then we had to take the case to court and were made to feel as though it was all about the money, but nothing could be further from the truth.

"If the hospital had admitted responsibility for what happened Padraig, that would have been enough for us. Even when his inquest took place, no one from the hospital showed up until the coroner summonsed them to do so.

"We have been told that new procedures have been put in place but we are speaking out now because we don't want anybody else to go through what we have gone through," he added.

Colin said he would urge parents who have any concerns about how their child is being cared for in a medical situation to ask questions and trust their instincts.

Belfast Telegraph

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