Boy left brain damaged after Great Ormond Street ‘ignored advice of his medical scientist mother’

Gabrielle Ali says her son’s disabilities – which mean he cannot walk or talk – are the result of a series of blunders by Great Ormond Street

Elijah Ali suffered serious brain damage and can no longer walk or talk

Elijah Ali suffered serious brain damage and can no longer walk or talk 
  

An 11-year old boy has been left brain damaged after a leading hospital ignored the advice of his medical scientist mother, she claims.

Gabrielle Ali says her son’s disabilities – which mean he cannot walk or talk – are the result of a series of blunders by Great Ormond Street.

After her son developed a complication following routine surgery at the world famous hospital, she was told to take son Elijah to her local hospital.

There, under direction of Great Ormond Street, Accident & Emergency doctors gave him a blood thinner called heparin that Miss Ali claims put Elijah into cardiac arrest.

She knew the blood thinner would damage her son but pleas to doctors were ignored.It was 45 minutes before the resuscitation team managed to restart her child’s heart.

Gabrielle Ali with her son Elijah

After being starved of oxygen for so long, Elijah suffered serious brain damage and can no longer walk or talk.

Ms Ali, 31, said: “From my scientific knowledge I knew it wasn’t safe to give heparin to my son as his haemoglobin – red blood cell level – was so low.

“The lowest safe level is around 84. Elijah’s was off the scale at 50. He desperately needed a blood transfusion first.

“I was really anxious that heparin would thin the blood around Elijah’s body too much and put his vital organs at risk.”

“I argued with doctors at Watford General Hospital where I was told to take him by Great Ormond Street. But they said they were acting on the instructions of Great Ormond Street. They threatened legal action if I tried to remove him from the hospital.”

“From my scientific knowledge I knew it wasn’t safe to give heparin to my son as his haemoglobin – red blood cell level – was so low.”
Mother Gabrielle Ali

As she tried to convince doctors at Watford and – via the telephone – Great Ormond Street, her petrified son asked her: “Mum, are they trying to kill me?” she said.

Within seconds of heparin being infused into a vein Elijah went into cardiac arrest.

Elijah now needs constant care

He was born with congenital heart defects and a cleft palate, had undergone a dental operation at Great Ormond Street in late March 2014.

Because he had an artificial heart valve, he is on a commonly used blood thinner called warfarin to reduce the chance of clots developing.

After the operation he bled heavily but when he was discharged when it stopped, despite his mother’s concerns. Once home he started bleeding again.

Great Ormond Street advised he be taken to Watford’s A&E unit. He was treated with a blood clotting agent and sent home.

Miss Ali says her son continued to be unwell but that it was not until March 31st that Great Ormond Street agreed to carry out a blood test.

The next day she was told his haemoglobin level was abnormal but was told to go to Watford hospital, as Great Ormond Street had no beds.

Staff at Watford made plans to carry out a blood transfusion the next day.

But before doing so, on the instructions of Great Ormond Street, they ordered a heparin infusion, despite Miss Ali’s protests.

Her son now cannot walk or talk and needs constant care.

She has hired solicitors Irwin Mitchell to press a case of gross medical negligence against Great Ormond Street.

She told The Daily Telegraph: “It was torture, knowing what would happen if Elijah was given heparin but being unable to stop it. I tried my best to fight them, but they didn’t listen.

A serious incident report by Watford Hospital said its staff were working under the instructions of Great Ormond Street Hospital.

West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust said: “We recognise that there are lessons to be learned in relation to the care provided to Elijah, including in relation to the advice we received from the specialist hospital in charge of his case. As a result, we have made a number of changes which will help prevent a similar event happening again.

Dr Vin Diwakar, medical director at Great Ormond Street Hospital, said: “We cannot imagine what an immensely difficult time this must be for the family.”

He said an investigation had been launched, but that it was not yet possible to determine whether anything could have been done differently.

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