Lowestoft: Pregnant woman in �2,500 payout after carbon monoxide poisoning

A PREGNANT Suffolk woman who suffered carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty boiler has received a �2,500 out-of-court settlement.

Sarah Hitcham was seven months pregnant when she had to go to James Paget Hospital (JPH) in Gorleston and undergo oxygen treatment in its hyperbaric chamber.

Ms Hitcham, 42, from Lowestoft, had gone to the hospital after she felt faint and sick in her Oxford Road home the day after her boiler was inspected.

As she was being treated in the hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning, her only thought was for the health of her unborn child.

Fortunately, less than three months after being poisoned, Ms Hitcham gave birth to a healthy son, Caleb, who weighed 8lbs and 6oz.


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But Ms Hitcham faces several years of anxiety over her son’s future as she waits to see if he has been affected by carbon monoxide while he was in his mother’s womb.

Yesterday Ms Hitcham recalled her ordeal from last November after she recieved �2,500 compensation from the insurers of Zips Plumbing and Heating, of Beccles.

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An engineer from Zips had inspected and issued a gas safety certifcate during an annual inspection for landlord Balmforths Property Services, of Lowestoft.

Within a day of the inspection Ms Hitcham, her partner Luke Hughes and her 16-year-old daughter Chloe Lake started to feel sick and faint.

The family called out an emergency engineer, who confirmed the presence of carbon monoxide because of leaking fumes from the boiler.

Because of Ms Hitcham’s condition she decided to go to the accident and emergency department of the JPH where a blood test confirmed she had high levels of carbon monoxide.

She had to endure three oyxgen sessions in the space of a day at the hospital to bring the levels down.

She said: “I was constantly worried about Caleb and what might happen to him.

“The doctors say Caleb is doing well and I am thrilled to have my little boy. But it will be several years before we really know if the fumes affected him.

“That is a long time to worry about something that could, and should, have been avoided.

“I go cold just thinking what could have happened to us and all because of a boiler that was not serviced properly.”

Manchester law firm Pannone LLP represented Ms Hitcham for the out-of-court settlement in which Zips Plumbing and Heating’s insurers Royal and Sun Alliance admitted liability.

Solicitor Madelene Holdsworth said: “This gas is a killer and safety is paramount. Sarah Hitcham could have been killed through no fault of her own.”

Zips Plumbing and Heating, based at Dorothy Hodgkin Court, refused to comment.

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