Belfast Telegraph

Parents of hyponatraemia victim Raychel Ferguson hope truth will come out in new inquest

Raychel Ferguson died in 2001 after an appendix operation
Raychel Ferguson died in 2001 after an appendix operation

The parents of a Northern Ireland girl (9) who died from hyponatraemia have said they hope a new inquest will give them the truth about her death.

Raychel Ferguson died in June 2001 at Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry the day after an appendix operation.

Hyponatraemia occurs when there is an abnormally low level of sodium in the blood. It can happen when fluids are given incorrectly.

In 2018, a 14-year-long inquiry into hyponatraemia-related deaths in Northern Ireland found that Raychel's death was avoidable.

The inquiry's final report was also extremely critical of the "self-regulated" health service.

Speaking to the BBC, Raychel's parents, Ray and Marie Ferguson, said a previous inquest into their daughter's death was a "shambles" and several key documents were withheld from the coroner.

"The full circumstances around what happened to Raychel were not told to the coroner," Marie Ferguson said.

"I am hoping this time the true circumstances about Raychel's death will be put out there.

"All we ever wanted from the start was the truth and we didn't get it."

Chair of the Hyponatraemia Inquiry, Sir John O'Hara, said the deaths of four of the five children examined in the inquiry, including Raychel's, were preventable and caused by medical negligence.

Raymond and Marie Ferguson with photographs of their daughter Raychel
Raymond and Marie Ferguson with photographs of their daughter Raychel

He also said that some doctors had engaged in cover-ups following the death.

In 2013, the Western Trust admitted liability for her death and a new inquest has since been ordered by Northern Ireland's Attorney General.

"I often sit and think: Do the doctors and nurses and the legal advisors ever sit and think was this worth it?" said Mrs Ferguson.

"They have put us through 18 years of hell. They might have thought we were going to give up - perhaps they can see now how important our only daughter was to us as a family.

"I will fight and leave no stone unturned until the full and absolute truth of what happened to her is out there."

Raychel's father, Ray Ferguson, said: "We can't put into words how difficult it is - we miss her every minute of every day.

"You learn to live with it, try to cope but the hurt is always there."

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