Mum’s drugs battle ended in tragedy

News story
News story

A WIGAN mum died of liver failure following years of drug misuse, an inquest heard.

The hearing, held by senior coroner Jennifer Leeming, was told Debra Hibbitt of Pemberton had started bleeding after she had injected herself in the groin area on May 21.

The following day, she was admitted to Wigan Infirmary A&E with an abnormal heart rate and blood pressure and her blood-sugar levels were low. She was rushed to intensive care but became unresponsive to treatment and the 47-year-old died on June 1.

Ms Hibbitt’s sister Lesley Armstrong told Bolton Coroner’s Court that she had attended A&E twice before her death with severe pain in her lower back and chest. Both times she was given antibiotics for pleurisy, but there was no mention of her liver failure.

At the inquest, Mrs Armstrong raised concerns with medical staff about the fact her sister had cirrhosis and questioned why she had not had any scans. But Dr Shariq Ahmed, consultant in emergency medicine, and consultant gastroenterologist Dr Paul Smith said the symptoms she presented at A&E on previous occasions did not relate to liver failure.

Dr Ahmed said: “Ms Hibbitt’s liver condition was noted on all attendances. On both occasions there was nothing in her clinical presentation that warranted a scan. There was something separate going on with her health in terms of the pain and pleurisy. There was nothing that could predict her deterioration on her earlier presentations at A&E.”

An autopsy revealed the former bakery and sales assistant died from multiple organ failure, caused by liver failure and hepatic cirrhosis.

Mrs Armstrong said her sister had been in an abusive relationship for 10 years during which she turned to drugs. She said: “She did seek help and had been in a methadone programme for the last seven years. My sister was a personable and trusting, caring person who was always willing to help others. She had a son and enjoyed gardening, arts and crafts and spending time with her grandchildren who she adored.”

Mrs Leeming said: “Debra died as a consequence of liver failure due to the misuse of drugs. She was clearly a much loved member of the family.”