Sunderland mum died aged 50 after complications following operation, inquest told

A Sunderland mum died aged 50 after an operation to try and resolve her issues with pancreatitis.

Monday, 15th March 2021, 1:28 pm

Susan Downs, of Rosedale Street, Millfield, first had an operation in September 2017 to put in a stent to treat her for pancreatitis.

It was replaced in October 2019 to try and improve her condition.

An inquest at Sunderland Civic Centre heard that Mrs Downs had been warned the operation could lead to a flare-up of her illness, and she agreed to go ahead with the surgery.

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Susan Downs, 50, died in Sunderland Royal Hospital after becoming unwell following an operation at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.
Susan Downs, 50, died in Sunderland Royal Hospital after becoming unwell following an operation at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

She was discharged from Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital after the surgery, but admitted two days later to Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Her death four weeks later was caused by hospital-acquired pneumonia and acute pancreatitis due to the procedure involving the stent.

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Mrs Downs’ family told assistant senior coroner Karin Welsh they were concerned and had been told the original stent had been replaced because it had been “placed wrongly”.

Dr Kofi Oppong, a consultant gastroenterologist at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, explained that was not the case, though neither operations had left the stent in the “ideal” location, and further tests found it had moved and passed through her body.

The 50-year-old’s relatives also raised concerns about her care at Sunderland Royal, and said staff should have made sure she took her medication.

Mandy Armstrong, B26 ward manager, said Mrs Downs had shown capacity to make decisions and declined a feeding tube. A review of her team’s work raised no issues.

Coroner Ms Welsh, who noted Mrs Downs also had lung condition COPD and diabetes, recorded a narrative conclusion she died of “a recognised complication of a necessary surgical procedure.”

Dr Shaz Wahid, medical director at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our deepest condolences go out to Mrs Downs’ family.

"Whilst we are pleased that the coroner found no issues with the care that Mrs Downs received while at the trust, we recognise that communication with her family could have been better and have apologised for this.

"We take the concerns of patients and their family members very seriously and always look to learn and improve wherever possible.”

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