Wealden village parents call for faster diagnosis after son, 2, dies

A toddler died after suffering a cardiac arrest following ‘missed opportunities’ in the treatment he received.

Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 9:25 am
Oscar Riley with his parents Ross and Emma SUS-210323-120443001

Oscar Riley, from Ninfield, died aged just two after being unwell most of his short life.

An inquest into his death heard he underwent surgery to remove a brain tumour but he was left with severe brain damage.

Dr Karen Henderson, assistant coroner for East Sussex, said there was ‘a perfect storm of circumstances all of which contributed to lost opportunities in directing Oscar’s care, management, investigation and treatment’.

Oscar Riley SUS-210323-105530001

In a statement read out at the inquest Oscar’s parents, Ross and Emma Riley, said: “He was a beautiful little soul. His caring and warm nature was infectious.

“He was incredibly helpful and always wanted to please others around him and to make them smile.

“In the second year of his short life, we could see him changing. He was unwell a lot of the time, and we weren’t able to get him fixed, despite us promising him we will get him better.

“Even though Oscar was not well a lot of the time, he was still able to bring joy and warmth to others with his personality.

“We are still so heartbroken we are not able to see him grow into the wonderful young man he was becoming, but we enjoyed every single minute we had with him. It was a privilege. We will never forget him.

“Oscar has saved the lives of many other children through organ donation. His death has forced process changes within the healthcare system to help bring about faster diagnosis times.

“We hope sharing our story helps to raise awareness of the symptoms of brain tumours to save more lives.”

The two-year-old’s family was represented by Dean Wilson Solicitors at the youngster’s inquest.

The hearing heard Oscar collapsed and went into cardiac arrest on December 19, 2019. He was taken to St George’s Hospital where a brain tumour was found.

Oscar successfully underwent surgery on December 20, 2019 in order to resect the tumour, however he was found to have suffered catastrophic brain damage.

Having been advised to do so by the health professionals, Oscar’s parents took the heart-breaking decision to remove life support treatment and he died on December 24, 2019, leaving his parents and seven-week-old brother.

The inquest heard Oscar had suffered from repeat chest infections and often appeared to be choking when attempting to swallow.

He then suffered from a series of seizures and was admitted to hospital.

A spokesman for Dean Wilson Solicitors said: “The inquest found that Oscar had been unwell for some time and that there were missed opportunities to explore his symptoms further.

“After a number of visits to the local GP throughout the year, Oscar had been admitted to the Conquest Hospital on September 6, 2019, September 9, 2019 and September 26, 2019 with breathing and swallowing issues, but a cause of his issues was not identified.

“Oscar’s parents did not consider that his symptoms were being adequately considered and therefore paid for him to see a private paediatrician on September 27, 2019.

“He was prescribed some antibiotics and appeared to initially improve before deteriorating again by October 18, 2019.

“The private paediatrician referred Oscar to the Brompton Hospital for further review, however tragically due to an administrative error this was not sent.

“Oscar had a further review at the Conquest Hospital on October 17, 2019 when a videofluoroscopy was arranged for January 16, 2020, a few weeks after Oscar died.”

Dr Henderson told the inquest that ‘the absolute tragedy is that it is clear that an earlier diagnosis would have given the very real possibility for Oscar to be cured of this benign tumour’.

Ben Davey, medical negligence lawyer of Dean Wilson Solicitors, acting for the family, said: “This is a tragic set of events that have led to missed opportunities to save a young boy.

“While doctors cannot be expected to consider every condition immediately, it was very clear that Oscar was unwell and required urgent tests to diagnose his health conditions.

“No one professional took responsibility for driving his care forward and this has proved catastrophic on this occasion.”

A spokesman for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust said: “We offer our sincere condolences to Oscar’s family.

“These were tragic but extremely rare circumstances and we’ve now completed an investigation and made changes to prevent the issues occurring again, so parents or anyone else who has concerns about themselves, their child or another relative should seek our help if they need it.”