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Children's hyponatraemia deaths report to be published

Children's hyponatraemia deaths report to be published
From BBC - January 30, 2018

A report into the deaths of five children in hospital in Northern Ireland is to be published later.

When the public inquiry into hyponatraemia-related deaths was first announced in 2004, the chairman said he hoped to deliver his findings in 12 months. But it has taken 14 years.

Hyponatraemia is a medical condition that occurs when there is a shortage of sodium in the bloodstream.

In severe cases it can result in death.

For the five families who lost children, it has been a long and difficult road.

Each of their stories is different, but the common thread is hyponatraemia.

The inquiry examined the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Adam Strain, Claire Roberts, Raychel Ferguson, Lucy Crawford and Conor Mitchell and how a number of hospitals managed fluids in the treatment of those children.

While the inquiry was set up in 2004, the first witness was not called until April 2012 and it stopped taking evidence in November 2013.

The inquiry chairman, Mr Justice O'Hara, was a senior barrister when it began and is now a High Court judge.

A total of 106 doctors and other medical professionals gave evidence and 179 witnesses were called.

Fifty lawyers were involved, representing the inquiry, the families and the health trusts.

Initial reports suggest the inquiry cost 13.5m, but that figure is expected to rise.

The tribunal has been dogged by repeated delays and adjournments.

The families say the delays have added to their grief and mental turmoil.

Cover-up questions

Raychel Ferguson's mother, Marie, thinks of her daughter every day.

After Raychel's operation in Altnagelvin Hospital, Londonderry, she was transferred to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children where Marie was told her daughter was brain dead.

"They said they would keep the machine on for 24 hours," she said. "It was a horrendous day - they said that we'd have to switch the machine off and I said no - how can you pull the plug on your daughter's life?

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