Heartbreak as pregnant mum dies weeks after 14 hour ambulance wait with no hospital beds
The family of a pregnant mum who died following a suspected epileptic seizure have concerns about the treatment she received in the weeks before her death.
Paige Ellis was six months pregnant with son Harri when they died at her Barry home on July 23.
The 28-year-old had suffered another seizure a couple of weeks earlier which led to her falling, according to her fiance Dan Dredge.
Dan, 29, says Paige was taken to a local hospital by ambulance on that occasion but, due to a lack of beds, they sat in an ambulance outside the hospital for six hours.
The ambulance driver reportedly then told them that they could face a further eight hours waiting for a bed to become available, so offered to take Paige to Barry hospital instead.
However, Dan – who also has a two-year-old son called Jax with Paige – believes an opportunity may have been missed when the hospital only dealt with her injuries from the fall without assessing her epilepsy.
“We sat in the ambulance outside the hospital for about six hours,” he said in quotes reported by WalesOnline. “The ambulance driver told us, ‘You can stay here but you could be waiting another eight hours.’
“She just had a scan on her foot, which she’d hurt when she fell. They never actually checked on her epilepsy at all.”
The following week Paige had another seizure, though it was less severe and did not cause her to fall because she was in bed at the time, so she did not go to hospital.
Around a week later Paige died following a suspected seizure while in bed.
Dan said it was unusual for her to experience three seizures in a few weeks, and she would normally only have about two a year.
“I just want answers,” he added. “I want to make sure she was getting the most care she could have and I don’t want there to be any people out there who have no idea they’re not getting the right care.”
Paige did not have any appointments for her epilepsy in the weeks after the wait outside University Hospital of Wales, said Dan.
Some weeks before then, the hospital had switched her medication, he said.
Her death came after another pregnant Barry woman, 25-year-old Megan Gardiner, died on June 4 following a suspected epileptic seizure.
Both women had recently been given new epilepsy medication by University Hospital of Wales in Heath.
Their families have joined forces to “fight for answers” as the Cardiff and Vale health board carries out a formal investigation.
Paige’s family say their understanding is that she received a similar change in prescription to the one Megan was given.
Megan had been taking three medications — Lamotrigine, Brivaracetam and Zonisamide — before she and her mum Alison attended an appointment at the hospital around two weeks before Megan’s death.
Alison said they were told that there was no risk to Megan’s baby from using Lamotrigine and Brivaracetam but that the research around Zonisamide was not clear.
Megan took the medical advice of upping her dosage of Lamotrigine and tapering off the Zonisamide. She had “wanted to do the best she could for her baby”, said Alison.
Next week the families will together meet health board representatives. They have been told the investigation is expected to be complete in October.
Alison, a 51-year-old social worker, said: “To know that another family from Barry have gone through exactly the same thing, my blood ran cold.
“I just couldn’t believe another family were having to go though this loss and it made me doubly sure I wanted to fight for answers.”
Paige’s brother Luke Donnelly, 34, said: “Our concern is this is two young girls, both epileptic, both treated at Heath hospital, both pregnant and both from Barry.
“Even if there’s nothing to it, at least we can hold our hands up and say we fought for answers for Paige.”
A spokesperson for Cardiff and Vale health board told WalesOnline: “Our thoughts are with the families at this incredibly sad time.
“The concerns are being reviewed in line with our governance process but due to patient confidentiality we are unable to comment on individual cases.
“Once completed, the investigation findings will be shared with the next of kin and based upon preliminary review we have not identified any immediate care and treatment concerns.”