Belfast Telegraph

We weren't told not to let Jake run, insists father of heart boy who died as he played in street

By Donna Deeney

An inquest into the death of an 11-year-old boy who died while out playing has been dramatically halted after his father disputed medical evidence about his heart condition.

The coroner has now ordered that the boy's GP is called as a witness and all his medical records are submitted.

Jake Murphy, only son of Peter and Leona Murphy from Ardnamoyle Park in Londonderry, was diagnosed with a heart problem when he was just eight months old, which meant he was under medical care all of his short life.

An inquest into his death was opened yesterday in the Coroner's Court in Derry, where Coroner Jim Kitson heard from Jake's father Peter that his son was diagnosed with the heart condition as a baby.

In his evidence, Mr Murphy said that initially Jake was seen at clinics in Altnagelvin hospital every six months until he was aged eight, when his appointments were then transferred to Dr Andrew Sands' clinic at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Mr Murphy said they were told this was because the equipment was better at the Royal Victoria Hospital but it was from this time that they were unhappy with the way the appointments were sent out and with the level of communication between Dr Sands and the family GP and themselves.

Mr Murphy stated that Dr Sands (below) at no time told them Jake should not run anywhere, but only that he should avoid strenuous sporting activity and otherwise he should act "like any other normal boy".

The coroner asked Mr Murphy about the nature of the care Jake had received from the hospital and he outlined that in 2009 an exploratory operation on Jake's heart showed that he did not need to have a valve fitted, but it was reiterated that he couldn't play football or take part in strenuous sports.

In 2010, Jake had an incident of fainting that meant he needed a 24-hour heart monitor applied for a period. Mr Murphy said that this had frightened his son.

In 2012 it was decided he needed to have a catheter inserted into his heart valve, but an MRI Scan done in May 2013 to see if Jake needed further medical intervention was not reported back until the day after he died.

Mr Murphy was cross-examined by counsel representing the Belfast Trust, who suggested that the scan showed Jake's condition had not changed from 2012 and there was no need for surgery.

Mr Murphy replied: "How can you say someone didn't need surgical intervention to widen a valve when he is gone – running down the street 200 yards?

"We were told there was no change in Jake but the change is, he is dead."

The trust's counsel also suggested that the family had been informed by Dr Sands that Jake should walk and avoid running and that this was done on several occasions in front of Jake so that he too would understand the importance. She added that the family GP, Dr McClay, was informed of this by letter from Dr Sands and that the family was written to.

Again, Mr Murphy refuted this in the strongest terms. He insisted once again that Dr Sands had only ever told them Jake should avoid strenuous sporting activity and gave the example of football, but otherwise, he could be a normal boy.

Coroner Jim Kitson halted the hearing and met both legal representatives in chambers, when it transpired that Dr McClay was not on the witness list, and would need to come to court and say whether he had been written to by Dr Sands.

Mr Kitson ruled that the inquest be adjourned to a later date, when Dr McClay could come to court. He also ruled that all of Jake's medical notes, from his GP and the hospital be sent to him and shared between both parties.

A statement is also to be taken from Dr Sand's secretary about Jake's appointments at the RVH.

BACKGROUND

Jake Murphy was just 11 years old when he collapsed and died in the street when playing. His father drove past on his way to work to see his son lying in the street.

Mr Murphy ran to his son, where two ambulance staff were performing CPR on Jake, and phoned his wife.

Mr and Mrs Murphy followed the ambulance to Altnagelvin Hospital and waited while Jake received help.

Sadly a doctor told them a short time later that Jake had died.

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