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Ipswich: Parents demand inquiry into why baby died from whooping cough

19:09 01 August 2012

Chelsea Thompson and Todd Haynes hold a photo of their daughter Sarae Thompson-Haynes.

Chelsea Thompson and Todd Haynes hold a photo of their daughter Sarae Thompson-Haynes.

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A NASTY cough from her tiny lungs was a sign something was wrong with four-week-old Sarae Thompson-Haynes.

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Whooping cough

The main symptom is a hacking cough followed by a sharp intake of air which sounds like a ‘whoop’

In rare cases it can be fatal

Children are vaccinated against the infection at two, three and four months of age

But little could her devastated parents know that just days later, she would be dead – a victim of whooping cough.

Today, speaking about their loss for the first time, mum Chelsea Thompson, 21, and dad Todd Haynes, 23, told The Star they are demanding an inquiry as they prepare to lodge formal complaints with their GP surgery in Hawthorn Drive, Harmoni, which runs the out-of-hours doctors service, and Ipswich Hospital.

Sarae died on March 21 at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), London.

Miss Thompson said: “It is rare [whooping cough] but doctors can test for it, you don’t have to end up in hospital.

“We are angry and devastated at the same time.

“It is something you don’t wish on anyone, it is very hard to come to terms with.

“Sarae was absolutely beautiful. And she was cheeky, we had a few smiles and winks in those precious weeks.

“I can’t say it would have changed the outcome for our little girl but I wish people had listened to us when we knew there was something wrong. I was a first-time mum and felt I wasn’t being taken seriously.”

Sarae was born on February 11 but by March 14 she had developed a bad cough. Concerned Miss Thompson took her to the GP to have her checked over.

Her condition got worse so later that evening Miss Thompson took her daughter to the Riverside Clinic.

Miss Thompson, of Discovery Avenue, said: “He [the doctor] gave us an inhaler and told us to put it over her mouth when she was coughing.”

By the next day Sarae’s condition had deteriorated and after calling NHS Direct, Miss Thompson took her first-born to Ipswich Hospital’s A&E department where she was given chest x-rays and a series of tests.

“Doctors at Ipswich mentioned she might have bronchitis. We felt like we always had to ask doctors what was going on. Communication was terrible.”

On March 21, Sarae was transferred from Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge to GOSH, where she died.

Two days later her parents discovered a test for whooping cough [known by the medical term pertussis], carried out at Addenbrooke’s was positive.

Miss Thompson added: “It wasn’t until she was transferred to Addenbrooke’s that a test for whooping cough was done.

“Two days after Sarae died we found out the test was positive. Doctors at GOSH sent us a letter informing us that her death certificate had been amended to add pertussis pneumonia as part of the cause of death.”

Sarae’s cause of death, as recorded on the death certificate, was noted as cardiac failure, severe sepsis as well as pertussis pneumonia.

The practice manager of Hawthorn Drive GP surgery said: “The whole team at the surgery offer their sympathies to the parents and family.

“Our duty to protect patient confidentiality means we cannot comment on individual cases but rest assured we at The Hawthorn Drive GP surgery are committed to offering the best level of care to all our patients. We would urge the family to contact us if they need our support or help at this tragic time.”

An Ipswich Hospital spokeswoman said: “We are very saddened by baby Sarae’s death.

“The family have not been in touch with us to date and we urge them to do so as soon as possible so that we can talk about and look into all the areas of concern.”

Dr David Lee, regional medical director for Harmoni, said: “We are very sorry to hear of Sarae’s death and our sincere condolences go to her parents.

“Patient confidentiality regulations prohibit us commenting publicly on an individual case but if Sarae’s parents wish to contact us, we would be more than willing to discuss any concerns they may have with the service they received.”

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