A 14-year-old girl who went into hospital “laughing and singing” died after undergoing general anaesthetic for a routine MRI scan.
Alice Sloman died at Torbay Hospital on October 19 three days after suffering a fatal cardiac event while inside an MRI machine.
Alice, who was undergoing tests for suspected water on the brain, survived on life support for over 72 hours before her organs shut down.
An investigation has been launched into the circumstances surrounding Alice’s tragic premature death.
As doctors fought to save Alice’s life, they discovered that Alice had an underlying heart problem that mean her heart was weaker than that of the average 14-year-old.
Her heartbroken parents, Sarah and Nathan, of Torquay, Devon, have bravely spoken out about the horror of their beloved daughter devastating death.
Sarah, who has three other children aged 19, 12, and six, said: “During the MRI her heart rate went sky high then plummeted a number of times and her blood pressure fell through the floor.
“What was supposed to be an investigation turned into a living nightmare. The liaise doctor said we should prepare for the worst.”
Alice was a pupil at Combe Pafford School in Torquay, had a number of health problems.
She was autistic, was visually impaired and struggled with hypermobility.
Before her death she had been suffering from headaches so her consultant suggested having an MRI scan on October 16.
Doctors decided to place the teenage girl under general anaesthetic because she would not have been able to cope with the scan.
Alice’s condition deteriorated so rapidly she was transferred to Bristol Royal Hospital for Children where she spent three days on life support and tragically died on October 19, surrounded by family.
Her family are awaiting the results of her post mortem examination.
Sarah said: “She went into hospital singing, laughing and being funny and then didn’t come home.
“It’s like waking up to a nightmare every single day. Being Alice’s full-time carer I am completely lost.
“I’m trying to muddle through for the sake of our other children but it’s so hard. Sometimes I just can’t believe it’s true.
“In my handbag I still have the £10 her nanny Maud had given her by her bedside to buy a new toy after the scan, and some chocolate.
“I promised she could have later because she was not allowed to eat before she went in.”
For the past seven years Alice had been on growth hormones as she was small for her age, and her parents believe the side effects of the medication impacted on her health.
Sarah said: “Alice didn’t produce growth hormone in her pituitary gland so she was given a growth hormone injection every day.
“Growth hormones don’t just make a patient gain weight or height, it can grow every part of the body including internal organs.”
While on life support, it was discovered Alice had a previously undiagnosed cardiomyopathy – diseases of the heart muscles – and a possible diagnosis of Noonan syndrome was given.
Noonan’s syndrome is a genetic condition can cause a wide range of distinctive features and health problems.
It is present from before birth, although milder cases may not be diagnosed until a child gets older, and the most common features include unusual facial features, restricted growth and heart defects.
Describing the void that has been left behind following her death, Sarah said her daughter was someone you never forgot once you met her.
“She was like a six-year-old as she was very playful and immature for her age,” she said.
“Her room is full of toys like Barbie dolls and Sylvanian Families.
“She loved to sing as loud as she could and loved Little Mix, Harry Styles and aspired to audition for the X Factor to meet Simon and Cheryl.
“I took her to Manchester arena to see Harry Styles for her birthday this year and she loved it.
“She was tenacious and didn’t mix her words so you knew what she thought. She would say what everyone else was thinking but was not allowed to say.
“Alice was also very strong minded and knew how to manipulate any situation to get her own way.
“She loved her toys and playing with them in her room. She was also very creative and loved drawing, colouring and painting, and used to do what she called ‘make and do’.
“She decorated her room from floor to ceiling with her artwork and certificates from school
“She kept a diary and she always wrote about food in it because she loved food. She would always sign her diary saying, ‘catch you tomorrow for another diary entry, love Alice’.”
The last entry remains before her hospital appointment and her parents are now campaigning for very child’s heart to be tested before undergoing general anaesthetic.
Sarah said: “Our daughter has died and we don’t want another family to suffer how we are right now.
“Every child’s heart should be checked to ensure they have a strong heart before any anaesthetic is given.”
Jane Viner, chief nurse at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are currently investigating the very tragic death of Alice.
“Alice came to Torbay Hospital for a routine MRI scan, but during the procedure she deteriorated and was immediately transferred to Bristol for specialist intensive care.
“Very sadly and despite everyone’s best efforts, a few days later Alice died. Our hearts go out to the family at this very difficult time.
“As part of our investigation, we have contacted Alice’s family to hear their concerns and to share information about the care we provided.
“We will continue to be in contact as the investigation progresses and will share any learning and recommendations that arise from the investigation with them.”
A JustGiving crowd funding page has been set up in memory of Alice along with a Facebook page.