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Stem cell freezing errors led to child’s death

Posted in: Medical Negligence Negligent Cancer Diagnosis Wrongful & Accidental Death 

Following the death of a 12-year-old girl in 2013, questions have been asked regarding whether a problem freezing stem cells could have affected her chance of survival. Sophie Ryan-Palmer had been fighting cancer for ten years, and was thought to be undergoing her final bone marrow transplant before being discharged from hospital. She sadly died on 17 July.

It was suggested by a coroner that Sophie’s death could have been prevented had there not been a problem during the medical procedure at Great Ormond Street Hospital.  It was heard that a more successful grafting of the cells could have prevented her, and three other children’s deaths. Eight children in total were found to have had issues after the stem-cell treatment.

Stem cells not maturing properly

Great Ormond Street Hospital said that they had carried out multiple tests before undergoing the transplants, methods they have been using for the last ten years.  In July 2013, Ryan Loughran (13 months) from Bournemouth died; Sophie died a week later; followed by Katie Joyce (4 years) from Hertfordshire who died in October. In August 2014, five-year-old Muhanna al-Hayany from Kuwait also died following the procedure.

It was heard in court that the hospital could not find a reason behind why the process was no longer working. An expert from University College London found that it was down to the stem cells not maturing properly.

The hospital has since changed its methods for the freezing of cells.

Sophie’s mother Debbie Ryan said: “Great Ormond Street have been fantastic to save her over the years, I won’t put them down for that, but unfortunately I feel that at the last hurdle they let her down badly.

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