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Mum dies within hours of returning from dream holiday after doctors 'neglect' life-threatening chest pains

Mum dies within hours of returning from dream holiday after doctors 'neglect' life-threatening chest pains

She had to wait more than 12 hours before being transferred for crucial surgery

A mum sadly died within just hours of returning home for a dream holiday, with an inquest hearing that doctors ‘neglected’ life-threatening chest pains.

Sharon Goddard, 53, died on 19 December 2022 after suffering an aortic dissection, having just flown back from the Caribbean after celebrating her 25th wedding anniversary and joint 50th birthday with husband Neale.

She started experiencing chest pains as the plane landed and was rushed to East Surrey Hospital.

However, after arriving at A&E, she had to wait more than 12 hours before being transferred for surgery.

"I am satisfied, on the balance of probabilities that Mrs Goddard's death was avoidable,” the coroner’s report said.

Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust has apologised and said that changes have been made following the tragic incident.

Goddard, who had worked for the NHS for 30 years, had a condition known as Loeys-Dietz Syndrome (LDS), which affects the connective tissue in parts of the body.

Sharon Goddard.
Family handout/Enable Law)

After arriving at hospital, a CT scan revealed she had suffered aortic dissection – a tear in the heart's main artery - and that she would need emergency heart surgery.

But after it took a further six hours to get her into theatre, the Bristol mum-of-three experienced a cardiac arrest during the anaesthesia process, which meant surgeons were unable to operate.

An inquest last year heard how Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust failed to provide basic medical attention when Goddard needed it.

She should have been seen within an hour of arriving at A&E, and transferred to a specialist centre for cardiothoracic surgery within four hours.

Jackie Linehan, medical negligence and inquest solicitor at Enable Law, which is representing the family, said: “There were multiple missed opportunities. If her condition had been recognised and addressed on time, things very likely would have been different and she would be here with us.

“Systemic delays played an equal part to lack of recognition of her condition.”

Her family are now calling for greater awareness of LDS, urging people to visit the Think Aorta education campaign website.

East Surrey Hospital.

“There are many symptoms, but the ones that carry the highest risk are related to the cardiovascular system,” her daughter Hannah said.

"LDS can cause enlargement of the aorta which can lead to aortic aneurysm or dissection.

"Aortic dissection occurs when there is a tear in the inner layer of the aorta causing the layers to split.

"It is a life-threatening condition which, if not diagnosed via a CT scan and treated promptly, can be fatal.

"We want to stress the importance of educating people, particularly in the medical field, about Loeys-Dietz Syndrome and aortic dissection, so that a repeat can be avoided in the future.

A Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust spokesperson said: "We are profoundly sorry and offer our deepest sympathies to Sharon Goddard's family during this difficult time.

"Whilst we cannot comment on individual cases, delivering high-quality care to our patients is our priority and we accept the coroner's findings.

"We have taken a number of actions since this incident took place and continue to work with our teams, to learn, improve our services and support the needs of our patients and their families."

Featured Image Credit: Family handout/Wikimedia Commons/Ian Capper

Topics: Health, News