to video my son to prove he was very ill
A DESPERATE mother videoed her baby boy in an attempt to
convince doctors he was seriously ill.
Cheryl Donnelly, aged 23, from Parson Cross, says she
took nine-month-old son Spencer Robinson to their GP
practice six times because a chest infection was failing to
The child was coughing so violently there were times when he
was struggling to breath and was being violently sick.
Doctors at the Buchanan Road surgery, in Parson Cross,
diagnosed him with bronchiolitis - a chest complaint common
in babies under the age of one.
But it was only after Cheryl had videoed her son having a
coughing fit and took the tape to the surgery that Spencer
was referred for hospital tests.
Before the appointment he became so ill Cheryl took him to
the Accident and Emergency department at Sheffield
An x-ray was taken and doctors diagnosed whooping cough.
Spencer spent a night in hospital and came home, where he
was treated with antibiotics.
Cheryl said: "I think it is really bad, he's only nine
months old and he's been ill for three months. He was so bad
he was sick with it.
"He was coughing and going blue. But when I went to see
about it the doctors sent me home every time. I got so
desperate I videoed him coughing. When they saw the video
they said they'd refer him to the hospital in the next
Doctors at the Children's Hospital will use Cheryl's video
to train doctors as whooping cough is rarely seen these
Most children are routinely immunised against the condition,
but Cheryl said she decided against it for Spencer because
she was concerned about the safety of the injection.
She believes her family doctor should have realised he could
have whooping cough because his medical records showed he
had not been vaccinated. She said she has spoken to the
practice and has received an apology. The surgery has
declined to comment on the case.
But Jeremy Wright, Director of Public Health, North
Sheffield Primary Care Trust, said: "We were very sorry to
hear about the delay in diagnosing Spencer's illness and the
distress this will inevitably have caused him and his
"Thanks to vaccination, whooping cough is now a very rare
illness and this may have contributed to the GP's
overlooking the possibility."
He said Spencer's case highlights just how important it is
for children to continue to be vaccinated.
"We really do urge all parents to make sure this happens so
unpleasant and serious illnesses like whooping cough and all
the associated distress they bring for families, as well as
children, can be avoided," added Dr Wright.
27 March 2004