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Family await truth about son's death

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: January 13, 2014

By DANIEL EVANS

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daniel.evans@b-nm.co.uk

An inquest is due to start today into the death of a four-year-old boy following a heart operation at Bristol Royal Children's Hospital.

Sean Turner passed away on March 15, 2012.

Before the procedure, the popular lad had excitedly told his friends doctors were going to "mend his heart".

For Sean's parents, Yolanda and Steve, the agony does not ease but they are hoping the evidence heard at Flax Bourton Coroner's Court over the coming weeks will provide them with some answers about what went wrong in the case of their son.

Yolanda said last night: "We are feeling very sad and anxious. We are putting our faith in the coroner to find the truth for Sean and for us. We would hope that the health trust will be open and transparent."

Sean was born with his heart on the right side of his body and blocked arteries between his heart and lungs.

He had his first operation in September 2007, when he was just six days old.

By the time he was four, he had undergone more surgery, but cardiologists told Yolanda, 45, and Steve, 47, that his operation in 2012 would see him through to his 30s.

On January 10 that year, the Turners, of Warminster, Wiltshire, met heart surgeon Andrew Parry at the hospital to discuss a procedure called Fontan surgery which would help Sean's heart work more efficiently.

Mr Parry said the operation could take five hours, after which Sean would spend about four days in intensive care and go home after about two weeks.

He spent eight weeks in hospital after his operation.

In an interview with the Sunday People, Mrs Turner said: "When I collected Sean from school that afternoon, he was so excited.

"His teacher said he'd been telling his friends that once the doctors had mended his heart, he wouldn't get tired so easily and would be able to play like them and walk all the way to school."

Sean had his surgery on January 24 and his anxious parents were told it had gone well.

But just 18 hours after the operation, he was transferred from the paediatric intensive care unit to Ward 32.

Within hours, Sean began vomiting, was unable to keep water down and was constantly thirsty. When urgent tests showed fluid had built up around his heart, he had it removed and a drain inserted.

Over the following weeks, medics discovered Sean had a blood clot on his kidneys and high blood pressure.

On February 16, he suffered a heart attack, which he survived, but his health continued to deteriorate and his devoted mum and dad rarely left his bedside.

Sean eventually died from a brain haemorrhage.

The inquest at Flax Bourton is the second in two months looking into the death of a child at the hospital's heart unit and, in particular, the children's cardiac Ward 32. Three weeks after Sean, seven-year-old Luke Jenkins died there. Avon coroner Maria Voisin ruled his death was not a result of neglect.

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