Wigan baby died suddenly at just 19 days old, inquest hears

Bolton Coroner's Court
Bolton Coroner's Court

A “lively” baby was just 19 days old when she died from sudden infant death syndrome, an inquest heard.

Lilly-May O’Donnell’s devastated parents were told that current tests struggled to identify the cause of her death, but it was hoped they would discover more in future.

An inquest at Bolton Coroner’s Court heard Lilly-May was born on November 7 at 37 weeks, weighing 6lb 10oz, after a normal pregnancy.

She was slightly jaundiced, but was soon discharged from hospital.

She lost weight so her parents took her back to the hospital and changes were made to her feeds, after which she gained weight.

But tragedy struck on November 26 at the family’s home on Anson Place in Marsh Green.

The inquest heard her mother Kelly Hardman gave her around 2oz of milk at 2,30am, before placing her on her back in a travel cot when she fell asleep.

Lilly-May would not settle upstairs, so had been sleeping downstairs in the cot next to the sofa where her parents rested for a couple of weeks.

But when her father Michael O’Donnell woke up to go to his job as a ground worker, he found his daughter was unresponsive.

He called 999 at 7.09am and performed CPR until paramedics arrived, managing to find a pulse.

Lilly-May was rushed to Wigan Infirmary by ambulance and doctors attempted to revive her, but she was pronounced dead at 8.19am.

In a statement to the coroner, Miss Hardman said it was “unbelievable” that she had died so suddenly.

Dr Rajeev Shukla, a paediatric pathologist at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, recorded Lilly-May died from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

He said the only thing of note found in the post-mortem examination was a common infection named respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), but this did not cause her death.

He said there were no signs of “failure to thrive”, many babies lost weight and Lilly-May’s weight was increasing.

The inquest heard there were still things that could not be identified by tests, but new scientific techniques may provide answers in future.

An investigation by the police found no suspicious circumstances or signs of neglect, the inquest was told.

Coroner Simon Nelson highlighted that risk factors often associated with SIDS, such as co-sleeping or the position she was in, did not play a part in Lilly-May’s death.

Recording a conclusion of natural causes, he said: “I hope, as does Dr Shukla, that in the course of time that the advancement of scientific knowledge, that clinicians and paediatric pathologists may be able to provide a better explanation, a more definitive cause of death, than the one that has been provided by Dr Shukla.

“But sadly by reason of where we are in so far as the advancement of science and clinical knowledge is concerned that is sadly the best we can do at this time.”

Mr Nelson added that he was sure Lilly-May’s family would remember her for the “enormous amount of pleasure” she brought during her short life.