Experts baffled at death of fit and healthy UCC student who died after being admitted to hospital with back pain
MEDICAL experts in Ireland and the UK remain baffled by the death of a fit and healthy Limerick student who died in a Cork hospital ten hours after being admitted for acute back pain.
A Cork Coroner's inquest into the death of Denisse Dasco (20), a University College Cork (UCC) student, returned an open verdict after hearing six experts in Ireland and the UK were unable to ascertain any precise cause of death.
Ms Dasco, who had no previous medical history, no injuries and was extremely fit, complained of a back issue after she had bent over while working as a waitress in Cork on April 20 last.
The young woman, from Raheen in Limerick but who lived at Hannover Street in Cork, told doctors she felt "a click" in her back as she bent over to pick something off the ground.
She woke up in her apartment at 2am on April 21 with severe pain in her lower back.
Ms Dasco rang her friend, Chyna De Los Angelas, for assistance and her friend accompanied her by ambulance to the Mercy University Hospital (MUH) at 10.00am.
She was given pain relief in MUH's emergency department before being later admitted and referred to the hospital's medical admissions team.
Ms Dasco had continuous pain in her lower back which at one point she described as 'nine out of 10'.
Multiple tests including D-Dimer analysis, blood tests, cardiac scans and an ultra-sound scan failed to indicate a precise cause - and there was no indication of a deep vein thrombosis or clot as initially suspected by MUH doctors.
Ms Dasco was helped to the bathroom by nursing staff at 9.45pm and suddenly complained of dizziness and pins and needles in her legs.
She vomited and was suddenly very breathless.
A short time later Ms Dasco went into cardiac arrest and despite desperately trying to stabilise her condition, doctors pronounced her dead at 10.40pm.
Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster said it was a baffling case.
"This whole case is so unusual from the clinical history to the pathology," she said.
"We cannot pinpoint the cause of death."
Mercy University Hospital's Dr Adrian Murphy, who did not directly treat Ms Dasco but who reviewed her treatment file, said it was an unusual case.
"In 15 years of clinical practice I have never experienced a case like that of Ms Dasco." he said.
"I have reviewed all of this and I cannot think of anything I would have done differently which would have changed the trajectory for Ms Dasco and what was devastating and tragic beyond words for her family."
Coroner Philip Comyn was told by Dr Bolster that, after her initial post-mortem examination failed to indicate a precise cause of death, she consulted with leading experts in their various fields across Ireland and the UK.
This included Dr Sebastian Lucas a world renowned consultant histopathologist at St Thomas and St Guy's Hospital in London.
Despite an exhaustive examination of Ms Dasco's neurological, respiratory, circulatory, renal and cardiac systems, no precise cause of death could be found.
Experts noted that the young woman had a large build up of fluid around her lungs.
The theories examined included a deep vein thrombosis or clot, sudden cardiac death syndrome and toxic shock syndrome.
However, nothing was found to confirm any specific theory as to the cause of death.
"It is a most complex case. Unfortunately, the cause of death is not ascertained in this case," Dr Bolster said.
Mr Comyn said that, in the circumstances, he had to record an open verdict with the cause of death not ascertained.
He expressed his sympathies to the young woman's family and described it as a very tragic case.
Ms Dasco's family including her parents Mary and Carlos were distraught at the inquest and asked for their privacy to be respected.
Tributes were paid to the young woman last April by her UCC forensic science classmates and friends in Limerick.
She was involved in several sports including kickboxing and was also a keen amateur photographer, working as a volunteer with I Love Limerick.