THE tragic death of a young Wigan horse riding instructor could forever remain cloaked in mystery.
Katie Wilcock who worked at the Deandane riding school in Gathurst, was rushed to Wigan Infirmary having collapsed after a dizzy spell at home and suffering from severe vomitting and diarrhoea. But she died the following day, despite doctors’ best efforts to save her.
A Bolton inquest, led by Assistant Deputy Coroner Geoffrey Saul, recorded a narrative verdict, citing multiple organ failure as the cause of death.
But despite in-depth reports from a number of consultants who looked after the 26-year-old, who had exhibited a catalogue of symptoms in the months before her death, no-one could say for sure why her organs stopped working.
The inquest heard how Katie, who studied floristry at Wigan and Leigh College, had been in and out of hospital with abdominal pain, facial and joint swelling and an itchy rash since January last year.
She was last admitted to Wigan Infirmary on July 17, 2013, after her collapse. Katie was initially diagnosed with septicaemia and kidney injuries and an ECG revealed her heart was not pumping correctly.
Doctors also said she was suffering from blood-clotting.
Dr Wael Khalaf, consultant anaesthetist at Wigan Infirmary’s intensive care unit, said: “We were very worried as we could see a critically ill girl with no diagnosis.
“We thought it was septic shock (a life-threatening condition that happens when the blood pressure drops to a dangerously low level due to an infection). She died of multiple organ failure but we are uncertain of this cause. There are a number of possibilities: a delayed allergic reaction to medication or problems with the heart and inflamatory response.”
It was heard she suffered various allergic reactions to antibiotics, causing severe anaphylaxis.
In February Katie, who lived in Wood Lane, Heskin, was admitted to Chorley Hospital.
She was kept under observation and remained there for 11 days, where her temperature continued to rise and she suffered discomfort in her feet. Her rash also worsened and developed into urticaria, or hives.
Dr Hugh McHurty, consultant physician at Chorley Hospital, said: “The microbiology department did not think antibiotics were the cause of infection. There was no blood or urine infection. Instead, a working diagnosis was inflamatory arthritis. We did not regard her to be in a life-threatening condition at that stage.”
A referral letter was written for her to see a dermatologist, but Dr McHurty admitted there was no evidence it had actually been faxed.
In April, Katie’s GP, Dr Qamar Ahmad, based at Croston Village Surgery, noted that no appointment had been made and he made the referral himself.
As her condition was deemed urgent, she saw Dr Easwaradhas Gladston Chelliah, a consult ant rheumatologist at Wrightington Hospital, on May 1.
It was discovered she had lymphoid swelling and a possible diagnosis of Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a hypersensitivity disorder that affects the skin and the mucous membranes, was made.
Dr Chelliah said: “The last diagnosis of her condition was inflammatory or rheumatoid arthritis. I did not expect that to lead to her death.”
Katie’s mum, Ann Wilcock, said: “She could not get on with her life and she could not get any answers. We were concerned about the lack of progress.”