A mother claims that paramedics advised her to give her fatal son 7UP, after she placed a call to 999 to have the sick child transported to a hospital.
Her son, Leonardo Sala, 11, of Mount Andrew Court in Lucan, Co Dublin, died of acute inflammation of the colon, secondary to chronic constipation at the Children's University Hospital in Temple Street, Dublin on July 21, 2010.
The mother, Marial Sala, told the coroner’s court that she placed a phone call to the emergency telephone number twice on July 20 as her son, who had an underlying condition called mitochondrial disease, appeared to be tremendously ill.
The grieving mother explained that she placed the first phone call at around 5 pm, and the ambulance arrived minutes later. In tears, Sala told the hearing she expected the first ambulance to take her son to the hospital right away. Instead, she says the paramedic told her there was "not a problem" with Leonardo and that all he needed was water and 7Up. Sala said the paramedic also suggested for the child to stop the laxative medication after she showed it to him.
The second phone call was placed later on, and at 10:27 pm the ambulance arrived to take the child, accompanied by his father Antonio, to Tallaght Hospital. He was then transferred to the Temple Street hospital for intensive care where he died the next day.
Sala, who speaks Portuguese, told the coroner she felt "guilty" for son’s death. "The way the young man explained the situation. He was so confident…so sure there was no problem… they (the parents) did not ask him to take the child (to hospital). The way he said it, they thought there was no problem," said her interpreter George Mopinga.
The paramedic of the first ambulance, Gary Marson, told the coroner he had no recollection of the event. He then said that as a paramedic, he would never refuse to take a patient to the hospital, especially if the mother was requesting for her child to be taken.
"There was obviously a language barrier,” Marson said. “All of the information was not communicated to us," he concluded.
The Irish Independent reports that Sergeant Mark Campbell told the coroner's court that there was a language and communication issue which led to the misunderstanding, and subsequently to the child’s death.