Baby died hours after hospital sent her home

A team from Edinburgh's Sick Kids Hospital rushed to St John's. Picture: Cate Gillon

A team from Edinburgh's Sick Kids Hospital rushed to St John's. Picture: Cate Gillon

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HEALTH chiefs in Lothian have launched an investigation into why a baby died 12 hours after she was sent home from hospital with Calpol.

Tragic five-month-old Leah Carroll died of meningitis in her parents’ arms after being rushed back to St John’s Hospital, Livingston.

Heartbroken mother Tanya Yeats, 23, told how she and fiancé Robert Carroll, 21, sang Leah her favourite song as they cuddled their daughter in her final moments.

The couple, from East Calder, had called NHS 24 late on Friday night after Leah – who had a previous meningitis scare when she was just ten weeks old – became seriously unwell.

Tanya said: “About 11.30pm she started tensing, shaking and she became roasting hot but her feet and hands were cold.”

Tanya said that they were given an appointment at St John’s but had to wait over an hour.

“She had a rash of around ten spots on her tummy and shoulders, but that didn’t seem to concern the medics.

“I’d a gut instinct that a temperature that high, with her previous condition, was dangerous. But they gave her Calpol and Ibuprofen and didn’t seem to make an issue of the rash.

“They sent her home because she woke up after a feed bottle and laughed and smiled. The doctor and nurse said she was back to normal. We were told to give her the Ibuprofen and to keep giving her Calpol.”

Leah was discharged around 3am. Once home, she slept but was then violently sick at around 7am.

Tanya called the children’s ward to say Leah was getting worse and was told to return to St John’s.

Her rash had spread and become darker. Tanya said: “Two doctors grabbed her off us and I started screaming ‘It’s happening again, it’s happening again.”

“A doctor returned about 20 minutes later and asked what I meant – and my mum said she had been in with suspected meningitis before.”

Leah was put on antibiotics while a team from Edinburgh’s Sick Kids Hospital rushed to St John’s.

Tanya said doctors spent nearly three hours preparing her to be transferred and they were allowed to see her before she left.

Tanya said: “Walking through the doors, it just wasn’t my child. She was wrapped up by machines. She was swollen, she was black in patches, her eyes were swollen, her lips were black.

Tanya travelled in the front of the ambulance while doctors worked on Leah. Once at the Sick Kids, she was rushed to theatre.

Tanya said: “Soon afterwards a nurse came in and said I should get my family here because it didn’t look good.

“About 2.40pm Robert and I were allowed in. We spent her last moments together before she died at 3.25pm.”

She described how they held Leah and sang to her before she passed away. “We sat singing Ali Bali Bee to her – her favourite song – and said over and over again that we loved her.

“They were using a hand-held pump to keep her heart going, but we asked them to stop it.

“They took all the tubes and wires away so we could cuddle her, but it took another 20 minutes for her heart to stop - she just didn’t want to go.

“She passed away lying in my arms with daddy cuddling us.”

NHS Lothian confirmed an investigation had been launched into the tragedy.

Dr Edward Doyle, a medical director at the Sick Kids, said: “Our thoughts and condolences are with the family. We are investigating the circumstances and would urge the family to get in touch so we can discuss any concerns they have in detail.”

iswanson@edinburghnews.com