Tragedy of little boy who bled to death in Sheffield hospital

Tharun Umashankar, aged two, who bled to death in Sheffield hospital - inquest.
Tharun Umashankar, aged two, who bled to death in Sheffield hospital - inquest.
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A LITTLE boy bled to death in Sheffield Children’s Hospital after a delay in life-saving surgery and a ‘failure’ of communication between doctors, an inquest was told.

Tharun Umashankar, aged two, died from bleeding of the stomach lining, probably caused by intolerance to milk.

He was rushed to Sheffield Children’s Hospital but, despite a previous bleed, was not earmarked until the next day for an endoscopy to look at his digestive system.

Independent expert Dr David Crabbe, a paediatric surgeon, said the procedure would have found the bleeding and Tharun could have had an operation that day to remove part of his stomach - which would have saved him.

He told the Sheffield inquest: “What was a complete failure was the lack of collaboration between surgeons and gastro-enterologists. Closer teamwork would have resulted in a different outcome.”

Tharun’s distraught mother Sentamil, 38, sobbed as she told the hearing: “I believed they would cure him and make him well.”

Tharun was rushed by ambulance to Barnsley Hospital on Saturday, July 10, 2010, and several hours later was transferred to Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

Mrs Umashankar said after doctors checked her son, she noticed his nappy was ‘full of blood’ - and claimed wet bedding had to be changed at least five times by nurses. “A nurse told me it was a good sign,” she said.

Mrs Umashankar was told by staff that consultant paediatric gastro-enterologist Dr David Campbell - in overall charge of Tharun though off duty the fateful weekend - would perform an endoscopy on the little boy at 8am on the Sunday.

But in the middle of the night she noticed his stomach was distended and ‘swollen like a bubble’. A doctor thought it might simply be a build-up of gas but at 4am Tharun vomited blood again.

By 6.30am ‘all the doctors were in a panic and confused’ - then Dr Campbell arrived and Mrs Umashankar, who also has two daughters aged seven months and seven years, said: “I was really pleased, I believed he was going to save my son.”

But despite a blood transfusion, Tharun failed to respond and he died at 9am on the Sunday.

Dr Crabbe, who reviewed the case, said Tharun had a ‘mighty strange illness’ for a child and he had not come across such a case of catastrophic upper gastro-intestinal bleeding in a child before.

He said the boy should have had an endoscopy on the Saturday which was an ‘error of judgment’ by the doctors.

“I would say Dr Campbell was taking a risk,” he added.

Mrs Umashankar and her petrol station cashier husband Sivananthan, 42, ran a grocery store in Barnsley at the time, but now live with relatives in London.

The inquest was adjourned.