New mum, 30, dies after ear in­fec­tion


Manchester Evening News - - NEWS - By AMY WALKER news­ @MENnews­desk

A BREAST­FEED­ING mother was struck down by se­vere ear­ache died just days after she re­fused to take an­tibi­otics for fear they might harm her three-month-old baby.

Col­lege lec­turer Rhi­anne StatomBar­nett, 30, had been breast­feed­ing son Ge­orge and feared pre­scrip­tiononly med­i­ca­tion might have ad­verse ef­fects on him though the trans­fer of baby milk.

Just two days after a con­sul­ta­tion with her GP in which she turned down his rec­om­men­da­tion for a course of an­tibi­otics, Miss Statom-Bar­nett, from Wilm­slow, was found un­con­scious at her mother’s home with her son cry­ing be­side her.

She was rushed to hos­pi­tal but doc­tors dis­cov­ered she had de­vel­oped the rare ear in­fec­tion mas­toidi­tis, which quickly pro­gressed to menin­gi­tis. She died shortly af­ter­wards in Wythen­shawe Hos­pi­tal. An in­quest in Manch­ester heard Miss Statom-Bar­nett, who worked as an English lec­turer, had given birth to Ge­orge in De­cem­ber 2015 with part­ner Ross Nor­man. She be­gan to com­plain of hav­ing ear prob­lems the fol­low­ing March. Her mother, Bev­erly, 55, a nurse, told the hear­ing: “I got a text from her on March 27 say­ing she was feel­ing un­well. She had ear­ache and a headache and sent Ross out to get some Parac­eta­mol. “We went to see her on March 30 and she was very ill. We booked an ap­point­ment with our GP the next morn­ing. “She said she had a se­vere headache and her ear was hurt­ing a lot. She said it was worse than labour pains. The next day she went for her ap­point­ment and they said it was a Dr Leena Joseph, pathol­o­gist vi­ral in­fec­tion. At around 5am on Satur­day, April 2, Ge­orge woke me up cry­ing. When I went into her room I found her in a quite un­con­scious state. She had vom­ited and when I called out her name she didn’t re­spond and we called an am­bu­lance.

“At hos­pi­tal the se­nior doc­tor came out and told us that Rhi­anne was ef­fec­tively brain dead. It was heart­break­ing.”

Mr Nor­man told the hear­ing: ‘She drove back with her par­ents on March 30 and I re­mem­ber see­ing gunk in her ear. I knew it was se­ri­ous. We were told that it was an ex­treme menin­gi­tis in­fec­tion that had taken hold.”

Miss Statom-Bar­nett’s GP, Dr Matthew Jones, said: “She had a four­day his­tory of ear pain and upon ex­am­i­na­tion I saw her ear drum had burst. She had no fevers so there was no ev­i­dence of mas­toidi­tis at the time.

“I did sug­gest an­tibi­otics but Rhi­anne re­fused and ex­plained she did not want this to af­fect her while she was breast­feed­ing. I told her that if her con­di­tion wors­ened then she should come back im­me­di­ately or go to the ac­ci­dent and emer­gency depart­ment. Four in 10,000 peo­ple can be af­fected by mas­toidi­tis, so this is in­cred­i­bly rare.”

Pathol­o­gist Dr Leena Joseph said: “When you are preg­nant your blood is more easy to clot and when you are post-preg­nancy you are more vul­ner­a­ble and sus­cep­ti­ble to in­fec­tion.

“This was ill luck and is a very rare com­pli­ca­tion.

“This de­vel­oped rather dra­mat­i­cally and noth­ing more could have been done. It would have been very hard to stop.”

As­sis­tant Coro­ner John Pol­lard recorded a con­clu­sion of nat­u­ral causes and said: “I know that Rhi­anne was a fit young woman with a baby and had a par­tic­u­larly ac­tive life­style.

“Her death was sud­den and very quick and must have been a mas­sive shock to fam­ily and close friends. Sadly some things hap­pen and noth­ing can be done.

“The ev­i­dence in this case shows that the doc­tors and neu­ro­log­i­cal sur­geons did ev­ery­thing they could, but un­for­tu­nately there was not a lot they could do.”

Rhi­anne Statom-Bar­nett

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