Sudden death of Leeds baby who survived heart operations

Ella Newson-Smith at the children's heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary last March with her parents.

Ella Newson-Smith at the children's heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary last March with her parents.

A FIVE-month-old baby girl born with an abnormal heart survived six operations at a Leeds hospital and was progressing well when she died suddenly at home, an inquest heard.

The devastated parents of Ella Louise Newson-Smith have paid tribute to the “fantastic” care their daughter received at the children’s heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary before her unexpected death last June.

Ella’s mother Hannah Reynard, 26, of Otley said: “Her death was a shock because she was the healthiest she had ever been.”

Miss Reynard, of Otley, added: “The care we received at the Leeds unit was fantastic and we will keep raising money for them.”

Ella’s father Jamie Newson-Smith, 31, said: “She was one of a kind, always happy and smiling after everything she went through. She was amazing. She had doctors around her all the time and had operations, but she took it in her stride.”

Ella was born with two holes in her heart and the aorta – the heart’s main blood vessel - was too narrow,

An inquest at Wakefield heard she underwent a number of successful operations at LGI to repair the abnormalities and fit a pacemaker following her birth last January.

She also had successful surgery to correct a stomach problem and to insert a feeding tube.

The inquest heard Ella, who sent around four months of her short life in hospital, awoke in the early hours last June 25 but went back to sleep at around 1.30am.

Miss Reynard discovered Ella was not breathing at 8am that morning and dialled 999.

Paramedics arrived, but Ella could not be revived and was pronounced dead just before 9.30am that morning.

Dr Kerry Turner a consultant paediatric histopathologist at St James’s Hospital, Leeds, conducted a post mortem on Ella.

Dr Turner, who said the pacemaker was examined and found to be working normally and correctly fitted, found no acute problems with Ella’s heart. Dr Turner said she classed Ella’s death as a sudden unexplained death in infancy.

West Yorkshire Coroner David Hinchliff said one possible cause of Ella’s death could tachycardia, where the heart beats too fast. Recording a verdict of death by natural causes, Mr Hinchliff said: “It’s more likely than not to be cardiac in nature.”

– Plans to axe children’s heart surgery at LGI were scrapped last year following a campaign to save the service. A new NHS England review is examining the future of children’s heart services nationwide.


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