Baby died after heart operation delayed, inquest told

Six-month-old Iris Day who died while awaiting a potentially lifesaving heart operation
Six-month-old Iris Day who died while awaiting a potentially lifesaving heart operation

A six-month-old baby died while awaiting a potentially lifesaving heart operation that had been delayed, an inquest has heard.

Iris Day, who was born with a heart defect, died on December 2 last year, a week before scheduled surgery on December 9 at Evelina London Children's Hospital, which is part of Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust.

An inquest in Chelmsford heard that a scheduled operation on November 25 was cancelled due to a lack of beds, and rescheduled surgery on November 30 was also cancelled as another ill child was prioritised.

There had been earlier delays at the start of November as Iris, whose family live in Great Braxted, Essex, had a viral infection and the risks of surgery were deemed too high.

Marilyn McDougall, a paediatric intensive care consultant at Evelina hospital, investigated the cancellations.

She told the inquest the first cancellation was when Iris, who was born with Down's syndrome, was "unwell and in intensive care" with a viral infection.

The next cancellation was due to a "lack of intensive care beds".

Regarding the third cancellation, Ms McDougall said: "There was another emergency case that day. Unfortunately that child on intensive care was critically unwell."

She concluded: "Although it was extremely unfortunate, I don't think any of those factors were incorrect given the evidence at the time."

She said that cancelled operations were "unfortunately much more frequent than we would like", with 120 this year to date.

She added there are plans for an additional 10 intensive care beds at the hospital by May.

Iris's parents Ben Day, 41, and his wife Hannah, 29, had taken their daughter home to Essex as they awaited her scheduled operation on December 9.

Iris was admitted to Colchester Hospital on December 2 with breathing problems and died later that day as a result of her unrepaired heart defect - complete atrioventricular septal defect.

The family's lawyer Farrah Mauladad asked a series of medics from Colchester Hospital about Iris's care at the hospital.

Bhupinder Sihra, a paediatric consultant at Colchester, said Evelina hospital was not contacted about her deteriorating condition.

He told the inquest: "I didn't ask one specific doctor to do it and that was an error on my part."

The hearing, at Essex Coroner's Court, is expected to last two days.