Abbie’s death will never be explained

Abbie Merry died age 11
Abbie Merry died age 11

The cause of death of a ‘little princess’ who died after being sent home from school will never be known, an inquest heard.

Abbie Merry, 11, was sent home from school after complaining she was feeling sick and had a headache.

Two days later she was rushed to hospital and, despite desperate attempts to revive her, she died in front of her family.

Today her grieving parents Tracy and Steve paid tribute to their tragic daughter and medics at Royal Preston Hospital after a coroner ruled Abbie died of natural causes.

Speaking outside yesterday’s inquest, the couple said: “Abbie was so laid back and everyone always said how happy-go-lucky she was.”

The inquest at Preston Coroner’s Court heard how Abbie, a pupil at Bishop Rawstorne Language College in Croston, sent her home on October 20 2010 after she said she felt ill.

Two days later, Abbie’s mum tried to wake her up at 6.30am and found she had been sick in her bed.

Her eyes were dilated and she was struggling to talk properly.

When paramedics arrived at their home, Abbie went into cardiac arrest and was rushed to Royal Preston Hospital where doctors desperately tried to revive her.

For 46 minutes they tried to start her heart again by injecting adrenaline and using shock treatment.

At one point her heart again began to beat, but after 30 seconds it stopped again.

Breaking down in tears at the end of the inquest dad Steve, of The Green Eccleston, thanked hospital staff for their support.

He said: “I was there for every second and I know how hard they worked.

“I want to thank the doctors and all the team for their efforts in trying to keep Abbie alive.”

Consultant paediatric pathologist Dr Stefania Bitteti told the court Abbie was born six weeks premature but had been a healthy child apart from suffering from asthma, and she regularly attended asthma clinics.

In October 2009, she had contracted swine flu, but had been given the drug Tamiflu and had fully recovered.

Dr Bitteti said: “I found fluid in the chest and around the heart which is commonly found in multi-organ failure but was not the cause of death, it happened at the time of her death. She had a mild respiratory tract infection which would have given her flu-like symptoms but this did not cause her death.”

Mum Tracy said: “Abbie was our happy, smiling little munchkin and we miss her madly.

“The verdict is a relief in a sense because we know there was nothing more we could have done. To know the doctors couldn’t find what was wrong with her in 18 weeks makes us feel better that we couldn’t have known while she was ill what was wrong.

“There was nothing we could do to change it.”

Recording a verdict of death by natural causes, coroner Simon Jones said: “Doctors found evidence of multi-organ failure but could not find a cause for her death.

“It was likely to be some sort of blood-borne infection but in numerous tests doctors were unable to find the source of that infection.

“I suspect this is of little comfort to her family.

“We don’t have a medical cause of death but I am satisfied that whatever it was she died from, it was naturally occurring.

“I fully understand a family’s concerns or disbelief that a child of Abbie’s age could die of natural causes.

“Indeed it is unnatural of a child of Abbie’s age to die and my sincerest sympathies go out to her family.”

A bingo night will be held at Eccleston County Primary School tonight at 7.30pm to raise money for Abbie’s Fund, the neo-natal care unit at Royal Preston Hospital.