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Mother’s heart-rending tribute to ‘smart, happy, smiley’ son, 8, who died in hospital

PUBLISHED: 06:30 07 November 2020 | UPDATED: 15:38 07 November 2020

Charlie Goodwin, from Harleston, died at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge in 2019. Picture: Goodwin family

Charlie Goodwin, from Harleston, died at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge in 2019. Picture: Goodwin family

Archant

A mother has paid an emotional tribute to her eight-year-old son who died a matter of hours after a mystery condition was finally diagnosed.

Charlie Goodwin, from Harleston, was cared for at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital prior to his death at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, in 2019. Picture: ArchantCharlie Goodwin, from Harleston, was cared for at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital prior to his death at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, in 2019. Picture: Archant

Charlie Goodwin died at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, on September 6 last year after suffering several cardiac arrests.

It became clear during the final hours of Charlie’s life that he had an undiagnosed condition known as bowel malrotation, which occurs during the embryonic stage of life in one in 500 people - but can be asymptomatic.

The Harleston youngster, who lived with his family on Tudor Rose Way, ultimately died as a result of haemorrhagic shock and multiple organ failure.

An inquest into his death on Friday (November 11) heard Charlie’s health had begun to decline in mid-July 2019, experiencing severe abdominal pain, loss of appetite, vomiting and incontinence.

Charlie Goodwin, from Harleston, died at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge in 2019. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA WireCharlie Goodwin, from Harleston, died at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge in 2019. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Despite carrying out a number of tests and scans in the ensuing weeks, doctors could not categorically pin down the reason for his illness.

In a heart-rending statement given during the inquest, Charlie’s mother, Nicola, said the family had been left “utterly devastated” by her son’s death.

“Charlie was such a beautiful, smart, happy, smiley boy,” she said. “The only time this was turned upside down is when he became ill.

“He was football-mad and his favourite team was Wolverhampton Wanderers. He loved copying the players when they were celebrating a goal, and watching matches with his dad and sister.

“Charlie wanted to be a referee and had a set of cards. He would always ‘send us off’ with his cards, without warning!

“He always got on with his five siblings and would playfully wind us up, especially his older sister. For someone his age, he had the best sense of humour.”

Friday’s inquest heard Charlie had been seen at his local GP surgery, in March 2019, regarding abdominal distension.

Blood tests came back as normal, but he was referred to Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) for examination in July and an x-ray found dilation of his bowels.

As he deteriorated, Charlie was eventually admitted to hospital in early August, but his parents were told their son was a “medical mystery” and he was discharged following further tests.

But on September 5, his mother heard a “blood-curdling scream” and, having begun vomiting, Charlie was taken to A&E and admitted again.

Dr Caroline Kavanagh, the on-call consultant paediatrician, received a call from her paediatric registrar at around 11.30pm, stating she believed Charlie was a surgical case.

The paediatric registrar told Dr Kavanagh that Charlie’s abdomen was distended and “tender”, and that he required an operation on his abdomen to establish the root cause of his problem.

However, the on-call surgical registrar deemed his abdomen not to have the “hallmark feature” of tenderness, instead deciding it was “soft” and did not immediately require surgery.

At around 2am, it was found Charlie’s condition had worsened and it was recommended a blood test was carried out prior to taking him to theatre.

But as blood was taken, he went into cardiac arrest and resuscitation took 11 minutes, before suffering a second which took more than 25.

At 4.42am, Charlie was finally stable enough to go into theatre, where doctors discovered his malrotation and told his parents of the need to transfer him to Addenbrooke’s.

Upon arrival, on the afternoon of September 6, Charlie suffered two further cardiac arrests while being wired up to new machines at the Cambridge hospital.

After a fifth arrest, Mr and Mrs Goodwin were told their son would not survive another and would have no quality of life due to brain damage and multiple organ failure.

They made the “agonising” decision for no further resuscitation attempts to take place when he had a final arrest.

“I went and sat with him and held his hand,” added Mrs Goodwin. “He died with us by his side.

“It is devastating to think that, with earlier surgical intervention, he would still be with us.

“Charlie’s death has understandably taken a considerable toll on our family. Every single second of every day he is in our thoughts.

“We miss him so much and, because we could not bear to bury him or have him away from us, we have his ashes at home. He truly deserves to be living and breathing and with us now.”

The inquest will resume at 10am on Monday, November 9.


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