Manchester Evening News

My son died after hospital op errors

Mum describes her agony after paramedics couldn’t save student

- By CHRIS SLATER @MENnewsdes­k

“I WAS not only his mum, I was his carer, I was his friend, his everything,” Karen Hill says, fighting back tears and clutching a caricature drawing of her son.

It shows him sitting at a writing desk. “That’s what he wanted, he wanted to be a writer,” she says. “He had a real passion and a talent for it.”

Rhys Hill, from Stockport, described by his mum as a ‘lovely lad with a big heart’ had his fair share of struggles as a child and young man. Rhys was born in Dublin and moved to the UK with his family in 2009.

He was diagnosed with ADHD as a teenager which meant his education was often tumultuous. He also had battles with his mental health, having been diagnosed with emotionall­y unstable personalit­y disorder (EUPD).

Yet he was bright and after gaining three A-Levels, in September

2022, he began studying creative writing at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN).

“He wanted to write about mental health,” Karen says.

Tragically, Karen says Rhys was ultimately let down in a different way. In January last year, the 20-year-old underwent back surgery at the Royal Hospital in Preston where he was studying. He was discharged three days later and went back to the family home in Cheadle Hulme where his mum helped looked after him. Yet just 10 days after being allowed home, he suddenly began struggling with his breathing and collapsed.

He was found to have suffered a Venous thromboemb­olism (VTE), the medical term for a blood clot, which is a life-threatenin­g potential complicati­on of the surgery he had just undergone. An inquest into his death found he had been sent home having missed a dose of medication to help prevent it and without Rhys or Karen being given ‘clear instructio­ns’ on the signs and symptoms.

“It’s a catalogue of errors,” Karen says. “Rhys had special needs and disabiliti­es, he was in pain and was on medication. So if they did tell him anything it’s unlikely he would have taken it in. On Wednesday, February 8, at about 11:30pm, after watching TV, she says he went up to bed. While Karen was locking up she got a phone call from him. I thought it was odd but I thought, young lad, he probably wants a sandwich or something. When I answered he said ‘Mum I can’t breathe, can you ring me an ambulance.’”

Karen tried to give him some of her asthma inhaler, but that didn’t work, and as she was on the phone with them he collapsed and his lips turned blue. “The operator told me I needed to do CPR. I started doing the CPR but I couldn’t get any reaction out of him” she says.

“Two ambulances arrived and they took over and got the defibrilla­tor on him. I was standing outside the room and was just begging them ‘Please save my son.’ “One of them came out and said we have to tell you he’s quite critical. I just said ‘he can’t be. Just take him to the hospital and he’ll be fine.’

“I went downstairs with one of the paramedics and rang my daughter in Ireland, then not long afterwards they said ‘We’re so sorry, your son has died.’ I just screamed and ran upstairs to hug him. I was crying my heart out. He had died in my arms.

“I just kept saying ‘Please come back to me,’ and ‘he can’t be gone.’ I just couldn’t believe it. This was my son I had fought for all my life, to get him an education, to get him mental health support, to get him everything.

“I had finally got him to university to do something he loved and enjoyed, and it had all been taken away. He had plans, he had ambitions, he had his whole life ahead of him.”

Karen is now having counsellin­g for PTSD and has suffered numerous bouts of ill-health herself since Rhys’ shock death. “They [the hospital] have a lot to answer for,” she says. The coroner said she would be writing a prevention of future deaths (PFD) report requiring the trust that runs the hospital to take action to ensure such a tragedy doesn’t happen again.

A spokespers­on for Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We would like to offer our sincere condolence­s to Rhys’ family.

“We are committed to taking the required action with the aim of ensuring that such deaths do not occur in the future.”

I just kept saying, ‘Please come back to me,’ and ‘he can’t be gone’ Karen Hill

 ?? Son, Rhys ?? Karen Hill, with a picture of her
Son, Rhys Karen Hill, with a picture of her

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