I had to video my son to prove he was very ill

March 2004

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 clear up.
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 Children's Hospital.
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 week."
Doctors at the Children's Hospital will use Cheryl's video to train doctors as whooping cough is rarely seen these days.
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 mother.
"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