Northern Ireland

Hyponatraemia inquiry: Trust admits liability over Raychel Ferguson death

Raychel Ferguson
Image caption Raychel Ferguson died in hospital in 2001

A Northern Ireland health trust has admitted liability in the death of a child in its care 12 years ago.

Raychel Ferguson was nine years old when she died in June 2001, a day after an appendix operation at Altnagelvin Hospital, Londonderry.

She was administered a lethal dose of intravenous fluid after her appendix was removed. The hospital is run by the Western Health and Social Care Trust.

Her death is being investigated as part of the hyponatraemia public inquiry.

Hyponatraemia is the term for a low level of sodium in the bloodstream, which causes the brain cells to swell with too much water.

The inquiry, being held in Banbridge, County Down, is examining the deaths of three children in hospitals in Northern Ireland, the events following the death of another and a number of issues arising from the death of a fifth child.

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Media captionMarie Ferguson said that while they were relieved at the trust's admission

The issues of fluid management and hyponatraemia are central to the cases of each of these children.

After her operation, Raychel was transferred to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children where she died some hours later.

When the hyponatraemia inquiry was established eight years ago, the Ferguson family said it wanted the health trust to accept responsibility for Raychel's death.

Raychel was the only daughter of Ray and Marie Ferguson.

They have told the BBC that, while it took too long, they feel they have finally got justice for Raychel.

Marie Ferguson said that while they were relieved at the trust's admission, the couple's pain was still raw.

"I welcome the trust's admission of liability, but I'm very sad that it has taken this length of time for them to do so," she added.

However, she said it would not be the end of the "sleepless nights" as Raychel "was not coming back".

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