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Mum told that baby at Great Ormond Street could have been saved by antibiotics

By Donna Deeney

Published 29/07/2015

Leanne Maguire holds a picture of daughter Sophie, who died after surgery in Great Ormond Street Hospital
Leanne Maguire holds a picture of daughter Sophie, who died after surgery in Great Ormond Street Hospital
Great Ormond Street Hospital in London

The mother of a newborn baby girl who died two years ago in Great Ormond Street Hospital is struggling to cope with the realisation that her daughter's death was preventable.

After a two-year battle, the parents of little Sophie Maguire were finally told that if she had been given antibiotics sooner she would have survived.

Leanne Maguire (31) enjoyed a healthy 38 weeks of pregnancy with second daughter Sophie - but a scan showed the baby had developed complications with her blood flow that would need urgent attention as soon as she was born.

Following her birth at Altnagelvin Hospital in April 2013 Sophie was transferred to Great Ormond Street for surgery, but despite making some progress, she did not recover. Leanne and her partner Stephen have since fought to find out the exact cause of their little girl's death, because although five different medical complaints were listed on the death certificate, the cause of death was marked 'unknown'.

The Chief Coroner of England and Wales, Peter Thornton QC, ordered an inquest and in a London court on Friday Leanne and Stephen were left reeling after a doctor told the court Sophie's death could have been prevented.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph at home in Londonderry, Leanne said Great Ormond's Street apology means nothing as the hospital is refusing to change its policy on the administration of antibiotics to very sick children.

She said: "We fought for two years to find out the exact cause of Sophie's death because it was down as 'unknown' on the death certificate and we went to court expecting to find that out.

"It was just Stephen and I along with Des Doherty our solicitor and our barrister in court, but the coroner was brilliant and broke everything down to terms we could understand, so we were well aware of the meaning of all the medical terms being used.

"We didn't need the coroner to explain what it meant when the doctor giving evidence said Sophie's death could have been prevented.

"That shocked us like you wouldn't believe, we were completed dumbstruck and just sat there trying to take in what she had said.

"We always imagined that because Sophie had such a complicated and serious blood flow condition that she could not have survived. Now it turns out her condition had nothing to do with her death.

"Her medical condition is listed on the death certificate we were given two years ago, but we have to get a new one now after the inquest and that condition won't be on it. It is tough coping with that information."

Great Ormond Street Hospital apologised to Leanne and Stephen after the inquest but said it will not change its policy on administration of antibiotics, even though Sophie would have survived if she had been treated with them earlier. Leanne added: "We don't want another baby to die needlessly the way Sophie did and we don't want other parents to go through the horrendous nightmare that we are in, and while I understand that hospitals can't give antibiotics to every sick child, they should be given in extreme cases such as Sophie's. Saying sorry without doing something to stop it happening again is pointless."

A spokesman for Great Ormond Street said: "Sophie was a very poorly baby who had an extremely rare and life-threatening condition. She was admitted to Great Ormond Street for a high-risk specialised procedure. The vital procedure provided the only chance of saving Sophie's life and needed to be performed without delay.

"The procedure itself went to plan, however Sophie's condition began to deteriorate and although we tried everything we could for Sophie, she sadly died while in intensive care.

"As the coroner confirmed, Sophie died from a complication of a necessary medical procedure.

"Following Sophie's death, we conducted a full audit of our protocols for routine preventative antibiotic administration for this procedure to see if they needed to be reviewed. This confirmed that it is not advisable to give antibiotics as a preventative measure due to the risk of resistance and low risk of infection. We would like to extend our condolences to Sophie's family again for their loss."

Belfast Telegraph

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