Wednesday 24 January 2018

Man suffered cardiac arrest and irreversible brain damage 'when he choked on piece of ham' - inquest

The Dublin Coroners Court, Store St. Pic Tom Burke.
The Dublin Coroners Court, Store St. Pic Tom Burke.

Gareth Naughton

A man suffered irreversible brain damage when he choked on a piece of ham, an inquest has heard.

Adrian Ghiuzan (38) a father of two from Romania died at the Mater Hospital on December 19, 2013 five days after he suffered a cardiac arrest when his airway was blocked shortly after eating some ham at his home on the North Circular Road in Dublin 7.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard from his brother Mihai Ghiuzan, giving evidence via an interpreter, that on December 14 he returned to the flat with a piece of baked ham and invited the dead man to the table to eat.

His brother had drunk three cans of Carling that morning, he told the inquest. He sliced a piece of ham for him. He did not see him eat it but saw him place some of it back on the plate.

His brother then sat on the couch and appeared to be falling asleep, Mr Ghiuzan told the court, however seconds later he saw him sliding to one side of the couch. He did not cough and nothing alerted him to the fact he may be choking, he said.

“I thought to myself 'this is quite strange, he couldn’t be falling asleep this fast'. I then noticed foam coming from his mouth. He changed colour and now had a yellow complexion. I knew something wasn’t right,” he said.

He panicked and ran downstairs to flag a taxi. “I knew if I called an ambulance, I wouldn’t be able to explain what was wrong as my English is not great,” he said. The dead man was unconscious at this stage and was not responding to being shaken. He carried him to the taxi.

When doctors at the Mater attempted to intubate Mr Ghiuzan they found food lodged at the back of his throat.

He was in full cardiac arrest when he arrived and subsequently developed seizures.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell told the family that doctors formed the view he had suffered irreversible brain damage following oxygen deprivation during the choking incident.

Mr Ghiuzan died when his life support was switched off the day after his wife arrived in Ireland from Romania, the court heard.

At post-mortem the cause of death was hypoxic brain injury due to cardiac arrest as a consequence of choking. Mr Ghiuzan also had a high degree of heart disease.

Dr Farrell said this may have caused a reflex cardiac arrest when his airway was blocked which would explain why he did not show any signs of choking.

He returned a verdict of death by misadventure.

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