Monday 19 February 2018

Laughter gone from our lives, say parents of tragic teenager

Georgina O'Halloran

THE parents of a teenage girl who died after brain surgery have said the laughter has now gone from their lives.

Meghan Fleming of Rathuard, Ballysheehy, Limerick, was 19 days short of her 16th birthday when she died at Beaumont Hospital on August 28, 2010.

One day earlier, she had undergone surgery during which a "catastrophic" bleed occurred.

The student at Colaiste Chiarain, Croom, Co Limerick, had sat her Junior Certificate just two months earlier.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell yesterday recorded a verdict of death by medical misadventure after hearing evidence at an inquest into the teenager's death at the Dublin Coroner's Court.

"This is a tragic result of a procedure," he said.

If Meghan was alive she would be celebrating her 17th birthday this week, said Thomas Wallace-O'Donnell, counsel for the Fleming family.

"She was referred for an MRI and just two months later her family lost her," he added.

Her heartbroken parents, Patricia and Brendan, speaking after the inquest, described their daughter as a "very happy-go-lucky, laid-back, bubbly" girl who loved music, books and dancing and as someone who wouldn't let anything hold her back.

They said her death had left a huge hole in their lives.

"The laughter is gone," said Mrs Fleming. Her husband added: "There is emptiness and silence in the house."

The couple have one other child, their son Eric (13).

The inquest heard that Meghan had had balance problems and co-ordination difficulties for years.

The teenager had an MRI scan at the Mid-Western Hospital in Limerick in June 2010, which revealed a build-up of fluid inside the skull. She was transferred to Beaumont Hospital on July 13 for neurosurgery.

Meghan underwent surgery on July 21, which confirmed a large cyst in her brain.

The aim of the procedure was to bring the pressure in the cyst under control, but the surgery was abandoned after minor bleeding occurred.

Following the first surgery, the 15-year-old was then placed on antibiotics to treat meningitis.

The family did not know anything about the meningitis until the inquest, said Mr Wallace-O'Donnell, who added that Mr Fleming was anxious to state that if they had known they may not have consented to the second operation.

By August 27, the 15-year-old was considered fit and stable enough to undergo the second procedure.


Surgeon Mr John Caird had initially planned to remove the cyst, but found that it was too big.

He was dissecting the floor of the cyst when an "instantaneous and catastrophic" bleed occurred. The teenager's condition deteriorated dramatically and she was pronounced dead the following day.

The coroner recorded the cause of death as brain injury due to massive haemorrhage.

Dr Farrell commended the family's courage in consenting to organ donations, from which four patients benefited.

Irish Independent

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