PARENTS

'Why Are You Crying, Daddy?' Five-Year-Old's Last Words Before She Died

01/12/2014 11:06 | Updated 20 May 2015

Ward Alshammary

A five-year-old girl gave her dad a last kiss moments before she died from an illness doctors failed to spot.

As Badr Alshammary wept as his daughter Ward's bedside, her last words were: "Why are you crying, Daddy?"

Moments later, she had a heart attack, brought on by a chest infection.

Two days earlier, Ward had been taken to hospital with an irritable rash, sore throat and pain in her lung, but she was sent home because medics thought she had nothing more than a virus.

She was rushed back to Southampton General Hospital two days later when her condition rapidly deteriorated and was diagnosed with bronchial pneumonia and a major infection between her lungs and chest wall.

Winchester Coroner's Court was told doctors gave Ward medication to tackle the bacterial infection but she suffered a cardiac arrest.

Moments before her death, Ward gave her weeping father Badr Alshammary a kiss and asked him why he was crying. Ward died in the early hours of January 22.

Dad Badr and mum Feraihah said: "We were incredibly close to our daughter Ward. Although she was only five years old, she cared for us, as much as we cared for her.

"She loved her siblings and all of her friends at school. Ward loved going to school and she loved her teachers. When she grew up she wanted to be a paediatrician - she even told the doctor at the hospital that was what she wanted to be.

"After that first visit to the hospital, we thought she would be fine. Even when we went back on 21 January 2013, we did not expect to leave the hospital without our daughter. Ward's death has affected our lives significantly: our family life, our studies, every day, even walking down the street.

"We know that nothing can bring Ward back but we hope that knowledge of the circumstances in which Ward died, which we now understand in more detail, can prevent similar deaths in the future."

Lawyers representing the Alshammary family asked if Ward may have survived had she been admitted directly to intensive care rather than time being lost at the high dependency unit.

Grahame Short, Senior Coroner for Central Hampshire, said it would never be known if her death could have been prevented by earlier treatment.

An internal investigation carried out by the hospital revealed there had been failings in her care. It said doctors had not appreciated the gravity of her condition in the final hours of her life.

Recording a verdict of death by natural causes, Mr Short said the 'failure to recognise Ward's deteriorating condition' caused 'a delay in the initial amount of immediate treatment'.

He said: "With the benefit of hindsight we now know there have been failings in individual decisions which, if they had been different, might have prevented the tragic outcome in this case."

He added that Ward's additional infection in her lung lining, which clinicians were unaware of at the time, may have been 'highly-relevant' to her sudden, rapid deterioration.

Mr Short said: "The central issue in this case is whether it would have made any difference if her true medical condition had been recognised sooner.

"It may well have been different if she had been moved to the paediatric intensive care unit and she was treated sooner, but I don't know that - and I don't believe that we'll ever know."

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