Thursday 17 January 2019

'I want to know why my beautiful, healthy three-year-old isn't here anymore' - Mum of tragic Ella

Ella Martin, aged 3 (left) and sister Maya, at 10 months
Ella Martin, aged 3 (left) and sister Maya, at 10 months
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

The mother of a three-year-old girl who passed away suddenly after a shock illness has said that her heart will "always remain broken".

Ella O'Callaghan-Martin (3) from Blackrock, Co Cork passed away in Cork University Hospital (CUH) on September 14, 2015.

Ella's mum, Olivia O'Callaghan, told that she is still searching for answers as to why her healthy three-year-old girl is not alive today.

Last week, Cork Coroner's Court ruled that Ella's post-mortem results are inconclusive and that medical professionals cannot determine an exact cause of death.

Ella Martin (3) with mum Olivia
Ella Martin (3) with mum Olivia

The court heard that Ella experienced vomiting and she was taken to hospital where her organs began to fail and she tragically passed away.

At the inquest last week, the family heard that doctors were unable to give a definitive cause of death but it is suspected that Ella died from sepsis.

Speaking to, Olivia said that their family was not happy with the outcome of Ella's inquest.

"The inquest didn't provide me with any answers. We think Ella died from sepsis but the autopsy couldn't find any proof of that.

"We were told if we want we can take the conclusion that Ella died from sepsis but it won't be recorded on her death certificate because the inquest recorded an open verdict. I want to know why my beautiful, healthy three-year-old isn't here anymore."

The grieving mother, who has an 11-month-old daughter Maya, said that the inquest left her with an overwhelming feeling of sadness as she had to relieve Ella's tragic final moments.

Ella Martin
Ella Martin

"The inquest brought me straight back to 2015 and I don't feel as though I've moved on a day since."

Olivia recalled how on the night before Ella's death on September 13, she and Ella had arranged to meet Ella's father, Paul, for a bite to eat in a local restaurant.

"Ella was very sick and kept vomiting so we took her home. We put her to bed that night and she fell asleep as normal. We checked on her during the night and she seemed fine."

Olivia said she had work the following day and she checked in with her daughter prior to leaving her in the care of her mother.

"She was still unwell the next day and was sweating. She was taken to the GP after she began complaining about pains in her tummy and we took her to CUH.

"She began to deteriorate very quickly and she was like a little rag doll. She would usually have a fit if you even pinched her but she wasn't reacting when the doctors were taking her bloods.

"I don't know what happened to her but I think she may have had a kidney infection because her urine was strong smelling and then she wasn't able to go at all. I think her kidneys began to fail and she died from sepsis but we'll never know."

At the Coroner's Court last week, coroner Mr Philip Comyn said it was a "very tragic case." He said it was his suspicion that sepsis was the cause of death of Ella but unfortunately autopsy was unable to give a definitive cause of death.

An open verdict was recorded in the case. Mr Comyn offered his condolences to the family of the deceased at the sudden loss of their beloved daughter.

After the inquest, Olivia also expressed her dismay at what they perceived as a delay in receiving genetic testing results.

"We waited so long to hear back if there was an underlying genetic condition that caused Ella's death. I was very concerned that her sister Maya may also have something wrong and everyday I have been afraid that something will happen to Maya too. Ella died when she was three, so everyday I wonder do I only have two years left with Maya before she turns three and may die too? Waiting for the results of the genetic testing has been horrendous.

"Eventually we were told that there was nothing genetically wrong but every time Maya even has a cough I am straight to the doctor with her. I'm constantly worried about her. It's so hard to know as a parent when to bring your child to a doctor. It's really scary."

Olivia added that every day without Ella is "hell".

"My whole world has been destroyed. Ella will be missing from every occasion in my life forever. Every day I wake up, I hope for a moment that Ella is here and then it hits me all over again. I go on for Maya but I look forward to the day when I will be re-united with Ella in heaven.

"Maya is just like Ella in every way. Just because you have another child, it doesn't make it any easier. I think it's very brave for people who lose a child to go on and have more children.

"I hope no family ever has to go through what I did. I didn't know love until I had Ella. I didn't know it was possible to love something that much until I became her mother. I was with her every day and then my precious daughter was taken away. My heart will always be broken but we will never forget Ella and I look forward to the days when I can tell Maya all about her wonderful big sister."

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