A POPULAR dad died of pneumonia after his health and lifestyle deteriorated following a major brain injury, an inquest heard.
Thomas Henry, from Atherton, died in the Royal Bolton Hospital after months of very poor health caused by pancreatitis linked to his heavy drinking.
Bolton Coroner’s Court heard an incident outside Legends nightclub in Leigh in 2011, which left him needed emergency surgery for life-threatening injuries to his skull and brain, marked a severe turning point in his life.
The court was told his personality changed dramatically and he often stopped eating, which meant he was extremely underweight and had very poor nutrition at the time of his death in November 2013.
His sister Kathleen Price told the court that until his brain injury dad-of-two Thomas, 46, had been a popular and sociable figure who loved keeping fit and enjoyed boxing and wrestling.
Mrs Price said: “From the time he suffered his injuries he probably spent 50 per cent of his life in hospital.
“He started to drink more and take illegal drugs.
“He changed a lot and he was really suffering through his injuries.
“I also noticed a big change after an operation to fit a titanium plate in his skull.
“We felt so concerned we sent a letter to the GP in July describing how he wasn’t looking after himself and wasn’t making the right decisions for his care.”
A post-mortem investigation found the incident in Leigh had caused irreparable damage to the frontal lobe of the brain, which determines behaviour and personality.
However, pathologist Dr David Bisset said the main cause of death was widespread pneumonia in the lungs, and said his chronic pancreatitis linked to excessive alcohol consumption was also likely to have contributed to the development of infection.
The court heard how Thomas regularly visited his GP surgery after the incident in Leigh and was referred several times to mental health services in relation to his heavy drinking, but refused to engage with the process.
Dr Tarek Gaber, a consultant supporting the community neurological rehabilitation services employed by Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) NHS Foundation Trust, said that although the fitting of a titanium plate to cover skull damage can sometimes cause a disturbance and negatively affect patients’ behaviour, this was necessary treatment.
The court was also told Thomas spent much of the last few months of his life in hospital after initially being admitted for acute abdomen pain caused by pancreatitis.
During his time in hospital it was suggested his weight and nutrition could be improved by peg feeding using a tube, but this was eventually deferred as there were long-term concerns about whether he would use the equipment correctly at home.
A best interests meeting was subsequently held, concluding Thomas should be moved to the Fourways centre in Tyldesley, which supports people with brain injuries.
He returned to the Royal Bolton Hospital on October 30 but sadly died on the morning of November 2.
Chest x-rays carried out shortly before his death showed no sign of infection, suggesting he contracted pneumonia less than 48 hours before he died.
Area Coroner for Manchester West Alan Walsh said: “It is very clear to me that Thomas suffered a very severe, probably life-threatening head injury in 2011, and he was in a coma.
“From that time on there was a sequence of events which changed his life.”