Belfast Telegraph

RVH doctor probe: Zoe waited for four years for brain scan - now her illness is terminal

Delays in treatment after my daughter's stroke left her with death sentence

By Victoria Leonard

A Belfast woman whose daughter was belatedly diagnosed with a terminal brain condition after more than four years in the care of Dr Michael Watt says she is "disgusted and heartbroken" by the neurologist's failure to investigate the condition sooner.

Amanda Scott's daughter Zoe was a student nurse with an 18-month-old daughter when she suffered a stroke at the end of March 2011. Within weeks she was placed in the care of Dr Watt at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

However, Amanda says that despite Zoe suffering from severe daily headaches, suicidal feelings and a "complete personality change", she was not offered a scan or any other kind of investigation for four-and-a-half years.

It wasn't until Zoe collapsed in December 2015 that Amanda says she finally underwent a brain scan at the Royal, which showed that she had progressive Moyamoya disease, a rare cerebrovascular disorder.

Amid deteriorating health, Zoe underwent two brain bypasses, but suffered a bleed on the brain after the second.

Amanda says that Zoe, now 29, has been given a terminal diagnosis and left "severely brain damaged".

The young mum is a resident in supported living who requires 24-hour care.

She is blind in one eye and wheelchair-bound.

"We have been left with a death sentence hanging over our heads, it's awful," Amanda told the Belfast Telegraph.

"By the time Zoe got the brain bypasses it was too late, whereas if she had been diagnosed and received treatment earlier she could have had a better quality of life and enjoyed more time with her daughter.

"Dr Watt has destroyed three lives by not listening to her for four-and-a-half years - Zoe's, her daughter, and mine.

"I would say to him: 'Shame on you for not testing her'.

"I want him to tell her wee daughter that Zoe is the way she is because he didn't listen to her.

"Zoe got a letter about being recalled for an appointment yesterday, but it doesn't solve it.

"I am disgusted and heartbroken for my daughter."

Amanda said that her daughter was "the best wee girl" before her medical issues began.

"My daughter got 11 GCSEs, three A-levels and a nursing degree. She was a great wee girl," she explained.

"Zoe was a 21-year-old student nurse at Queen's University.

"She was living with her partner and 18-month-old daughter while studying.

"When she had the stroke she knew something was wrong but was not sure what, and over a few days her condition deteriorated so she couldn't walk straight or write.

"We went to A&E, who gave her two paracetamol tablets and sent her home.

"Then she went a bit blind and her GP referred her to the Mater Eye Clinic, who saw how serious it was.

"Very quickly she was referred to neurology at the Royal under the care of Dr Watt, and on April 4, 2011, she was diagnosed as having suffered a stroke.

"It was exactly two weeks before her 22nd birthday.

"Over the next four-and-a-half years Zoe attended Dr Watt's clinic at the Royal, and for all of that time she constantly complained of headaches.

"Her personality changed, she started drinking and smoking and was suicidal. They thought she had mental health problems, and she lost custody of her daughter.

"But Dr Watt did nothing, he didn't even offer her a scan.

"She went to see him several times and they just put it down to the first stroke.

"When I look back, there were so many missed opportunities."

The family's lives were shattered when Zoe began passing out in December 2015, which finally led to a scan and a crushing diagnosis.

"She was diagnosed with progressive Moyamoya, which I have been told is terminal," devastated Amanda explained.

"I don't know how it was missed.

"I believe she had it from 2011, yet no scan was offered and no investigations done to determine why someone that young had suffered a stroke, continual headaches and a personality change.

"She had her first brain bypass in June 2016 to the right side of her brain, which controls the left hand side of her body, to improve the blood supply.

"She had to undergo a second bypass in January this year to the left side of her brain as she kept having strokes on the right hand side of her body, but suffered a bleed on the brain, which has made her condition worse.

"She is now disabled, requires 24-hour care and is completely paralysed.

"She is in supported living and spends all day sitting in her chair watching TV.

"She is in a wheelchair, she's blind in her right eye, very distressed and very anxious.

"She's also frustrated but can't express it.

"If Zoe's condition had been detected sooner, the bypasses might have been more successful.

"She would always have developed Moyamoya, but she would have had a chance at a life, it could have been managed and she could have been there for her child.

"For years she has had no quality of life.

"I have asked how long she has left, but no one will give me an answer."

After the diagnosis, Amanda says that Zoe consulted a solicitor regarding the lack of investigations, but became too unwell to take the case further.

She revealed that Zoe had also complained to the Belfast Trust in a letter.

"The stress of dealing with the situation has also taken its toll on me.

"Our lives have been ruined.

"I had so many hopes and dreams for Zoe, and it's terrible to see that all taken away.

"All anyone wants for their child is for them to be well.

"When you go to see a medical professional, you trust that they know what they are doing."

The Belfast Trust said it was "unable to discuss individual patients".

It advised anyone concerned "to call the helpline".

Belfast Telegraph


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