Belfast Telegraph

'I'll fight until my last breath to get the truth for Raychel'

By Lisa Smyth

More than 170 people gave evidence to the Hyponatraemia Inquiry over the course of the 148 days of public hearings.

But among the most heart wrenching accounts to come out of the inquiry was a statement made by the mum of nine-year-old Raychel Ferguson.

Even hardened barristers were reduced to tears as the court heard the devastating impact the death of the pretty youngster had on Marie Ferguson.

And yesterday, Mrs Ferguson sat with a photograph of her beloved daughter as she quietly sobbed while listening to the chair of the inquiry deliver his damning verdict on what happened to Raychel.

Speaking after publication of the report, Mrs Ferguson said the findings have confirmed the shameful failings her family has endured following Raychel's death.

"For hospital medical staff to make a mistake is forgivable. However, to orchestrate a cover-up and to deliberately mislead is totally unforgivable," she said.

Raychel, a primary five pupil at St Patrick's Primary School in Pennyburn, Londonderry, had won a medal in the school sports day on the day she was admitted to Altnagelvin Hospital.

Her parents took her to A&E that evening as Raychel was complaining of a sore stomach and looked grey.

Within 48 hours, she was brain dead as a result of hyponatraemia.

Mrs Ferguson continued: "At no stage were we told at Altnagelvin just how unwell Raychel was.

"We were told she needed to go to Belfast for an operation and it was only when we got into the hospital that we began to realise how bad it was.

"A doctor came and told us he wanted to speak to us and I honestly thought he was talking about someone else, I couldn't believe they were talking about Raychel.

"They told us there was no hope for her, that there was no brain activity.

"When the time came they lifted her out and put her on my knee.

"All I can remember is the sound of sobbing, I don't know who it was, all I could do was beg Raychel to wake up. I kept telling her she needed to wake up, but she didn't.

"Our lives have been destroyed, I can't count the number of times we spent huddled under an umbrella in the rain at her grave.

"I will never get to see her get married. Raychel would have been 26 this Sunday, she could have been a mummy by now.

"During the inquiry, one doctor came to me outside the court and hugged me tightly and asked me if I would have preferred for them to have told me the truth from the very beginning. I will fight until my last breath to get the truth and justice for Raychel."

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