Sheffield toddler died of brain damage after drinking white spirit

Sheffield Coroner's Court, where the inquest was held.
Sheffield Coroner's Court, where the inquest was held.

A 15-month-old toddler died of brain damage after drinking white spirit stored in a kitchen cupboard at his Sheffield home, an inquest heard.

Teddy Walker collapsed at his home on Edmund Close, Lowedges, after drinking turpentine solution on April 3, 2018.

A report read to the court, Dr Karen Arnold, said his mother Danielle told a paediatrician the youngster had been playing in the lounge and had gone into the kitchen.

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Dad Leon was putting money on the family's gas metre at the time, it added.

Reading Dr Arnold’s statement, Assistant Coroner for Yorkshire South West Katy Dickinson said: "Mum heard him struggling to breathe and Teddy was standing up facing the kitchen door and he was struggling for breath.

"There was turps all over the kitchen floor and a strong smell of turps."

Dr Arnold's report said the white spirt was in its original plastic bottle in a kitchen cupboard.

It added Teddy's auntie Stacy called 999 while Danielle attempted to give him a drink.

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Stacey carried out CPR before paramedics arrived.

Teddy then had a respiratory arrest in the ambulance on the way to Sheffield Children's Hospital.

He was admitted to the paediatric critical care unit, where he remained until April 5.

Dr Jeffrey Perring, a consulant paeditrician at the hospital, said Teddy was struggling to breathe and contacted Leicester Glenfield Hospital, which specialises in extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) – a treatment which provides respiratory and cardiac support to patients unable to provide an adequate amount of gas exchange.

Teddy’s family raised concerns during the inquest as to why a CT scan was not carried out during his time in Sheffield.

But both Dr Perring and Christopher Harvey, ECMO director at Leicester Glenfield Hospital, both said it would have been too soon for anything to be seen on the scan.

Mr Harvey said: “A brain scan at this stage would been falsely reassuring. You would had to have had a catastrophic brain insjury to see the effects.”

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The toddler was transferred to Leicester on April 5 and medics carried out two scans – the first on April 6, which revealed an infarct – tissue death – on the right side of the brain.

Another CT scan on April 9 showed a deterioration in Teddy's condition and life support was withdrawn later that day.

Assistant Coroner Katy Dickinson agreed with pathologist Dr Marta Cohen that Teddy died of complications with the ingestion of hydrocarbons.

In recording a conclusion of accidental death, Mrs Dickinson said Teddy accidentally ingested white spirits at his home on April, 3, 2018.

She said care at both Sheffield Children’s Hospital and Leicester Glenfield was ‘appropriate throughout’ and that despite this Teddy died.

Addressing Teddy’s family, she said: “I just want to say how sorry I am we are here.”