Changes a ‘tribute to memory’ of Raychel

Raymond and Maire Ferguson whose daughter, Raychel Ferguson died in 2001 after being admitted to Altnagelvin Hospital to have her appendix removed. She was nine years old.            Picture: Conor Greenan/Pacemaker

Raymond and Maire Ferguson whose daughter, Raychel Ferguson died in 2001 after being admitted to Altnagelvin Hospital to have her appendix removed. She was nine years old. Picture: Conor Greenan/Pacemaker

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A Consultant paediatrician has told the Hyponatraemia inquiry that “things have changed” since the death of Raychel Ferguson.

Dr Brian McCord told the inquiry that he was hopeful that the changes made in the treatment of patients would be a “fitting tribute” to the nine year-old schoolgirl who died when she was overloaded with fluids following an operation to remove her appendix in 2001.

Mr McCord told the inquiry this week that “nobody had any indication that there was any issue with [solution] No. 18” until Raychel’s death.

He said that it was by “luck” “that nobody had come to harm by it” prior to 2001.

In closing his evidence to the hearing, Dr McCord said: “It’s not lost on me that it’s 12 years and three months today since Raychel’s death. She would have been a 21 year-old, independent, free-spirited girl now.

“But we can’t bring Raychel back; you can’t bring her back, I can’t bring her back. The purpose of the discussions today and in the weeks and months that have gone before are that there are two absolutes: Raychel was admitted and Raychel died. Between those two points there are many if onlys, buts and presumptions and otherwise.

“Nothing can bring Raychel back. However, I think a fitting tribute to her memory would be that since Raychel’s death, things have changed, that has precipitated a whole lot of changes and I would be hopeful that this will be a fitting tribute to her memory, knowing that others have gone forward and are safer than they would have been before 2001.”

The inquiry, being held in Banbridge, County Down, is examining the deaths of Raychel and two other children in hospitals in Northern Ireland, the events following the death of another and a number of issues arising from the death of a fifth child. The issues of fluid management and hyponatraemia are central to each case. The inquiry resumes hearings next Tuesday.