Grieving family of Sheldon Farnell make New Year vow to fight for answers over his tragic death

The grieving family of Sheldon Gary Farnell have vowed to keep fighting for answers as they enter the New Year without their '˜beautiful' boy.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 03 January, 2019, 05:00
Sheldon was always smiling

Four-year-old Sheldon died of suspected sepsis at Sunderland Royal Hospital - less than 24 hours after doctors originally sent the poorly youngster home.

His heartbroken family are continuing their fight for answers - desperate to know why their beloved Sheldon wasn’t saved.

His adoring mum, Katrina Farnell, 23, said: “We’re just going to fight all the way and get justice, I want to know why he died. He should have still been here.”

On Friday November 23, Katrina rushed Sheldon to hospital and the pair spent the next two days on a ward believing Sheldon had a serious viral infection.

When he was sent home on Sunday morning, the youngster was unable to walk or stand but his family say doctors told them Sheldon was ‘on the mend’.

This was before blood results had come back to show something wasn’t right – and then doctors failed to get in touch with Sheldon’s loved ones to get him readmitted.

Sheldon with Nicola and Santa

Less than 24 hours later, his desperate family rushed him back to hospital after his condition worsened.

But the ‘little fighter’ sadly died after suffering a cardiac arrest on the morning of Monday November 26.

Sheldon’s uncle Daniel Robson, who the youngster would adoringly call ‘Uncle Haviea’, said: “It’s been a month and we haven’t got one scratch of an answer. It’s not right really.

“At the end of the day, Sheldon might be at rest but he’s not really until he gets the justice he deserves now.

“That’s a month we’ve been without him and we’ve had nothing.

“It’s really frustrating - we shouldn’t have to be ringing to get answers.”

He added: “You can’t wait three years to get justice for a little four-year-old boy - it’s not right. None of us can rest until we know what happened to Sheldon.

“It’s going to be long and painful.

Sheldon and Violet Mae dressed as elves

“The bond we had, me and Sheldon, it was unbreakable. Nothing would come between us.

“It’s going to be horrible going into a New Year without him here.

“He touched so many people’s lives.”

A review into the circumstances around Sheldon’s care was launched by bosses at City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, with the matter also passed to the city coroner for investigation.

The family should have celebrating Christmas together but instead they were saying their final goodbye to the popular little boy, a pupil at Houghton Community Nursery School, who touched the lives of so many.

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His grandmother, Nicola Farnell said: “I don’t know how we kept so strong the day of his funeral.

Sheldon with his uncle Daniel Robson

“It came and went so fast, even when the undertakers came here and we all gave him a kiss one last time.

“A few minutes just turned into seconds - they were just gone. And now we have nothing.”

Nicola, who Sheldon called Mommor, said: “We’re going into a New Year now without Sheldon.

“I go down to his grave at 2 o’clock every day, we never go empty handed we always take a toy or something he liked.”

His family feel doctors should have picked up something was seriously wrong earlier as the youngster already had a low immune system.

“They knew Sheldon had a low immune system to start with because he was really poorly as a baby. He was just 11 weeks old and spent his first Christmas in hospital with bronchitis,” said his aunt, Rachael Farnell.

Nicola, 46, added: “They told us that the next 17 hours were crucial - he was all chewed up then. But he was a little fighter and he fought it. I never left the hospital at all.

“He got all of his presents in the hospital.

“I would have bought him the world and I still would.”

Christmas decorations at their home in Houghton were taken down and replaced with pictures of their smiling Sheldon.

And a time which should have been spent together as a family with Sheldon and his cousin 14-month-old Violet Mae Farnell opening presents passed by as the grieving family struggle to come to terms with their loss.

Hilda Jamieson, Sheldon’s great grandmother, said: “You can’t get around it in your head. It’s just not acceptable. Your whole body feels as though you’ve been in a car crash - it’s the only way you can really describe how we feel.

“Sheldon was a very happy boy. He wasn’t a naughty bairn at all. If one bairn took a toy off him he never bothered he would just get up and go get something else.

“He just loved to kiss you and cuddle you and basically love you.

“You especially don’t think it’s going to happen to one of your children especially when he was so full of life.”

City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust’s internal review into Sheldon’s care are ongoing.

Ian Martin, Medical Director at the trust said: “Understandably this is a difficult time of year for Sheldon’s family and once again we would like to offer our heartfelt condolences for their tragic loss.

“Due to patient confidentiality, we are unable to discuss details of Sheldon’s treatment, however we can confirm our robust internal review process is underway and we will continue to keep Sheldon’s family fully updated.

“As with any unexpected death, the coroner will also be undertaking a full and thorough investigation and we are offering our full co-operation and support of this process.”

Sheldon with a Christmas tree where he donated a bauble last year