Wigan family want answers after tragic death of two-year-old

Allie Birchall, from Atherton, died after picking up a bug following a holiday to Turkey, and her family hope an inquest can give them the answers they want

Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 11:15 am
Allie Birchall had to be put on life support after falling ill but didn’t survive

An inquest will look at whether the death of a two-year-old, who contracted a bacterial infection following a holiday to Turkey, could have been avoided.

Allie Birchall from Atherton, suffered gastric illness including stomach cramps and diarrhoea shortly after she returned from a 10-day stay at the Crystal Sunset Luxury Resort and Spa in Antalya with her family in July 2019.

She was then admitted to hospital where she was diagnosed with Shiga-Toxin producing E.Coli (STEC).

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Crystal Sunset Luxury Resort and Spa in Antalya

She subsequently developed haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), a serious and potentially fatal blood condition linked to STEC, which can result in kidney failure and brain damage. Despite the best efforts of doctors, little Allie died on August 3 that year, just weeks before her third birthday.

A pre-inquest review took place into Allie’s death at Manchester Coroner’s Court yesterday as her family, including mum Katie Dawson, look for answers.

The hearing ruled that a full inquest at a later date will determine how, when and where Allie came to be exposed to E. Coli and whether it was avoidable. It comes after Allie’s family raised concerns about the condition of the hotel. All complained of suffering from gastric symptoms during the course of their holiday, which was booked through tour operator Jet2 Holidays.

The hearing heard that a report produced by pathologist Dr Melanie Newbold, who conducted a post-mortem, offered a medical cause of death as “conditions associated with HUS due to toxins produced from E. Coli.”

Allie Birchall

Speaking by video link, Ian Denham, counsel for Allie’s family, said: “We would like the scope to extend to how, when and where it was likely that Allie was infected by the pathogen.

“The family are very keen to know how it was and where it was that Allie was exoposed to this rare serotype. This is an illness associated with high mortality and long-term renal problems.

“Given the possibility that this is a pathogen that could be associated with contaminated food, drink and the condition of the swimming pool water, the court may wish to consider whether or not the illness did occur at the hotel and was associated with any hygiene issues.”

Daniel Saxby, counsel for Jet 2 Holidays, expressed “sincere condolences” to Allie’s family and friends for their “tragic loss” on behalf of Jet 2 and himself.

He added: “This particular serotype is very rare and not previously seen in the UK. We accept a more general inquiry into how it could have been acquired but this should be comparatively limited in scope.”

Zak Golombeck, area coroner for Manchester City, said: “In terms of scope, the inquest will extend to how, when and where Allie came to be exposed to the E. Coli pathogen and as a result whether her death was avoidable.”

Allie’s mum Katie, 36, was in attendance virtually at the hearing but did not speak.

Before the hearing, she said: “Our lives haven’t been the same since then and while we can’t turn back the clock and change what happened, we need answers as to why our princess was taken from us.

“It’s the least we deserve and we hope the inquest will provide us with these.”

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