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Cambridgeshire mum urges ‘lessons must be learned’ after death of 8-year-old son

Care ‘fell below the standard he and his family were entitled to expect’

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The mother of an eight-year-old Cambridgeshire boy who died from deep vein thrombosis triggered by Group A Streptococcus is calling for lessons to be learned after an ambulance trust failed to take him to hospital.

Kaleb Ablett, from March, developed cold-like symptoms and was diagnosed with a viral upper respiratory tract infection in December 2019. Shortly afterwards, he began complaining of leg pain and needed help walking to the bathroom.

Two days later, Kaleb’s mum, Claire Wesley, called the NHS 111 helpline concerned that Kaleb had a high temperature, upper chest and back pain and marks on his skin similar to bruising. He was also breathless.

An emergency response car was dispatched due to concerns of possible sepsis. Kaleb was assessed by an emergency medical technician (EMT), but he wasn’t taken to hospital.

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The following day, Kaleb’s condition worsened, and he began vomiting and shivering. Claire contacted 111 again and Kaleb was transported to hospital by ambulance.

Kaleb, (bottom left) a keen footballer, was diagnosed with a respiratory tract infection on Christmas Eve, 2019

Kaleb, (bottom left) a keen footballer, was diagnosed with a respiratory tract infection on Christmas Eve, 2019

He suffered a cardiac arrest and died the next day, aged eight. An inquest held last February concluded he died from deep vein thrombosis triggered by a Group A Strep infection behind his left knee.

Following Kaleb’s death, Claire, aged 41, instructed medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate and whether more could have been done to help her son.

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She’s now joining with her legal team in calling for lessons to be learned.

It comes after the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust admitted during the first visit to the family’s home it “failed to obtain a sufficient history” on Kaleb’s clinical position.

As a result, it failed to “take into account the entire picture” with regards to the youngster’s symptoms, which included a temperature of more than 40 degrees Celsius, and that Kaleb was too unwell to carry out normal activities.

The trust further admitted that Kaleb should have been referred for senior clinical input by an out-of-hours GP who would have recommended Kaleb be taken to hospital.

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Had this happened, he would have been discharged home with oral antibiotics which “on the balance of probabilities would have resolved the Group A Streptococcus infection…and Kaleb would have survived.”

In legal correspondence, the ambulance trust also stated it was “deeply sorry” that the care provided to Kaleb “fell below the standard he and his family were entitled to expect.”

Marianne Stapleton, the expert medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Claire, said: “The past four years and trying to come to terms with Kaleb’s tragic death have been incredibly difficult for Claire and her family.

“Understandably they remain devastated by Kaleb’s death and the circumstances surrounding it.

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“Since losing her little boy so suddenly, Claire has had a number of questions about what happened. We’ve been determined to help her obtain the answers she deserves and therefore welcome the trust’s admission.

“Strep A is a bacteria that can cause many different infections, ranging from minor to fatal illnesses, with early detection and treatment vital in beating it.

“Therefore, it’s vital that lessons are learned from Kaleb’s death to improve patient safety for others.”

Kaleb, a keen footballer, was diagnosed with a respiratory tract infection on Christmas Eve, 2019.

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During the early hours of 28 December, Claire called 111. She asked her daughter, Kaitlin, 21, to call 999 when Kaleb began vomiting, and to pack a bag as she expected him to be taken to hospital, but he wasn’t.

Throughout the day, Kaleb’s temperature remained high, and he had increasing difficulty in standing and walking.

He was admitted to hospital on 29 December.

However, his condition continued to deteriorate. He died on 30 December after suffering a cardiac arrest.

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Claire, who is also mum to 14-year-old Georgia, said: “Kaleb was such a happy little boy and brought us so much joy. He loved the outdoors, was fit and healthy, and was convinced he was going to be a footballer when he grew up. When he began to feel under the weather we thought it was just a cold.

“However, within a few days, his condition had got a lot worse. I knew something was seriously wrong with him, but nothing prepared me for what happened. I’ll never forget the moment I was told I had lost my little boy; I remember falling to the floor.

“All of our lives have been torn to pieces by losing Kaleb, and the pain and grief is still as raw today as it was back then.

“I feel like I’ve been robbed of a future with my beloved boy, and nothing will ever heal the pain and grief I’m suffering.

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“I just hope that by speaking out I can raise awareness of what Kaleb went through so other families don’t have to go through what we are.”

 

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