Doctors disagree over allergy question at Jonnie Meek inquest

The tragic death of toddler Jonnie Meek at Stafford Hospital was likely contributed to by his reaction to a new feed he was given, doctors agreed.

John Meek and April Keeling lost their son Jonnie in 2014
John Meek and April Keeling lost their son Jonnie in 2014

The three-year-old, from Cannock, went into the hospital on August 11, 2014, for a pre-planned appointment for him to be set up on a new feed. He began suffering breathing trouble and despite oxygen treatment, he died less than three hours after arriving at the hospital.

Jonnie was disabled, living with the genetic disorder De Grouchy Syndrome, asthma, skin conditions and dietary intolerances. He had a history of breathing issues and vomiting up food.

Throughout his life his family and doctors trialled various new non-dairy feeds to try and get him to keep food down and put on weight.

It was for one of these feeds that he went into hospital on August 11, for a trial of a solution he had been given in a higher dose earlier that year and had a negative reaction to.

This week a second inquest into his death, held in Shrewsbury, has been hearing from his parents John Meek and April Keeling as well as the doctors, nurses and dieticians who knew the family.

On Wednesday three doctors gave their evidence: pathologist Dr Tamas Marton, who conducted a post mortem exam of Jonnie; fellow pathologist Dr Andreas Marnerides, who also studied the case; and paediatrician and allergy specialist Dr Donald Hodge.

Disagreement

The doctors had differing views on whether Jonnie suffered an allergic reaction to the feed, with Dr Martinedes inferring from a certain kind of white blood cell found in his body that an anaphylactic reaction was the likely answer.

He said that he had encountered cases where someone had touched something they were allergic to with no reaction, then encountered the same thing on a second occasion and died.

Dr Marton pointed out that Jonnie's lungs were already badly-damaged from his past breathing issues and said that he could have died with or without having the new feed.

He said that the types of white blood cells observed in Jonnie were not exclusively seen in allergy patients.

Dr Martinedes pointed out how quickly Jonnie deteriorated after the trial started, saying: "Children that are dying are not being taken to hospital to see what milk they will be given."

All of the doctors were able to agree that Jonnie's adverse reaction to the feed, if not necessarily allergic, did contribute to his death.

Dr Hodge said: "I think it's quite clear he had an adverse reaction to the feed. I can't get away from the fact that he came into hospital for an elective procedure and died during that procedure.

"I am surprised Jonnie never met an allergy doctor."

He agreed there was a "chance" that Jonnie's reaction was allergic.

All of the evidence has now been heard, and Shropshire's coroner John Ellery will consider his findings before making a conclusion today.

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