Six-month-old Iris Day from Great Braxted died after two cancelled operations, inquest hears

Iris Ann Day. Picture: SUE KENNEDY

Iris Ann Day. Picture: SUE KENNEDY - Credit: Sue Kennedy

A six-month-old Essex baby died while awaiting a potentially lifesaving heart operation that had been delayed twice, an inquest has heard.

Iris Day, who was born with a heart defect, died on December 2 last year, a week before scheduled surgery on December 9 at Evelina London Children’s Hospital.

An inquest in Chelmsford heard a scheduled operation on November 25 at the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust-run hospital, was cancelled due to a lack of beds, and rescheduled surgery on November 30 was also cancelled as another ill child was prioritised.

There had been earlier delays at the start of November as Iris, whose family live in Great Braxted, had a viral infection and the risks of surgery were deemed too high.

Iris’ parents Ben Day, 41, and his wife Hannah, 29, had taken their daughter home as they awaited her scheduled operation on December 9.


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Iris was admitted to Colchester Hospital on December 2 with breathing problems and died later that day as a result of her un-repaired heart defect – complete atrioventricular septal defect, where there is just one valve in the heart.

The family’s lawyer Farrah Mauladad asked a series of medics from Colchester Hospital about Iris’ care at the hospital.

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Bhupinder Sihra, a paediatric consultant at Colchester, said Evelina hospital was not contacted about her deteriorating condition.

He told the inquest: “I didn’t ask one specific doctor to do it and that was an error on my part.”

Marilyn McDougall, a paediatric intensive care consultant at Evelina hospital, investigated the cancellations.

She told the inquest the first cancellation was when Iris, who was born with Down’s syndrome, was “unwell and in intensive care” with a viral infection.

The next cancellation was due to a “lack of intensive care beds”.

Regarding the third cancellation, Ms McDougall said: “There was another emergency case that day. Unfortunately that child on intensive care was critically unwell.”

She concluded: “Although it was extremely unfortunate, I don’t think any of those factors were incorrect given the evidence at the time.”

She said cancelled operations were “unfortunately much more frequent than we would like”, with 120 this year to date.

She added there are plans for an additional 10 intensive care beds at the hospital by May.

The hearing, at Essex Coroner’s Court, is expected to last two days.

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