"A nightmare we will never awake from": mum of Shay Turner (5) tells of torment as inquest opens

By Chloe West | 08/10/2019

'A nightmare we will never awake from': mum of Shay Turner (5) tells of torment as inquest opens
Shay (left) with his family

THE mum of a five-year-old boy who died after being rushed to Rotherham Hospital told an inquest his death had left a “huge hole” in his families lives and they were “living a nightmare we will never awake from”.

Laura Turner (28) gave evidence in a statement to Doncaster Coroner’s Court on the first day of the hearing for her son Shay.

The hearing was told doctors gave Shay too much insulin too soon in error but a report from a brain injury expert said there was “no evidence” this had caused the Rawmarsh youngster’s death.

Shay died on April 3 last year, four days after being admitted to Rotherham Hospital after becoming unwell.

The inquest heard on Monday how doctors diagnosed Shay, who was autistic, as diabetic after he was rushed to hospital when he began vomiting, could not keep a drink down and was unable to pass urine. 

Mrs Turner said she felt “incredibly let down” by Rotherham Hospital and claimed staff had not been equipped to deal with her son's deteriorating condition, adding: “The family have been left devastated, destroyed and heartbroken by the loss of Shay and still find it impossible to carry on without him two years on.

“We will never get over this huge hole that has been left in our lives and are living a nightmare we will never awake from.”

Shay’s condition deterioated while at Rotherham Hospital and he was moved to Sheffield Children's Hospital. 

His stomach had become swollen and had to be operated on and part of his bowel was removed. 

The five-year-old was put on dialysis, but the family still had hope of his survival.

However, a scan later revealed Shay had suffered a catastrophic brain injury and would not survive without life support.

Dr Daniel du Piessis, a consultant forensic neuropathologist, said there was no evidence to suggest a high dose of insulin caused the irreversible damage. 

He added a trauma-based brain injury could also be ruled out.
“We can comfortably say Shay did not come into hospital with the bleed on his brain,” Dr du Piessis added.

“It’s unusual to see non-traumatic bleeds, but it was clearly very fresh and happened after hospital admission.”

Dr du Piessis went on to say the bleed on Shay’s brain was not the cause of his initial deterioration, adding that it was a complication which occurred after everything else was appearing to go wrong. 

The brain began to swell and was severely damaged by a lack of oxygen. 

“Based on my clinical opinion and the information I was given, it is highly unlikely the damage to the brain was due to an overdose of insulin,” Dr du Piessis added.

Shay’s autopsy revealed he died from multiple organ failure but the cause of this was still unknown. 

Dr Charles Wilson, a forensic pathologist, told the inquest he had found a large lump of faeces in Shay’s rectrum, which was in line with his history of constipation.

He said Shay’s body had been in shock and his organs failing due to a lack of blood flow and agreed with Dr Piessis that there no sign of trauma.

Dr Wilson felt the insulin dose had not had a “significant contribution” to Shay’s death. 

He said he was uncertain why his body had gone into shock initially, adding: “What happened to his bowel before and when he came into hospital is still unclear.”

Both Dr du Piessis and Dr Wilson said that sepsis could have been a possible cause of Shay's organ failure and they could not argue against it. 

Dean Ashton, Shay's grandad, said there had been a “stark contrast” between the staff at Rotherham Hospital and Sheffield Children’s Hospital and the family still had unanswered questions.

“Our anger still remains with Rotherham Hospital,” he added. “In our hearts, we feel if we had gone to Sheffield Children’s Hospital initially, Shay would still be with us today." 

The inquest continues and is expected to last up to a week. 

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