The parents of a five-year-old autistic boy claim their son died when doctors gave him ten times the correct dose of insulin, after misdiagnosing him with diabetes.
Shay Turner was rushed to hospital on March 30 last year, but tragically died four days later after suffering a catastrophic brain injury.
Parents Laura, 28, and Martyn, 29, claim doctors missed the fact he was suffering from sepsis and gave him a large dose of insulin.
Little Shay felt unwell on Good Friday, telling his parents he couldn’t go to the toilet and wanted to drink but couldn’t keep any water down. He also kept being sick.
His parents thought he was suffering with a stomach bug, however Shay began to look grey and so they decided to take him to A&E when his dad came home from work.
Laura and Martyn took Shay to Rotherham General Hospital, South Yorkshire, where he was rushed into the A&E’s resuscitation bay. It was there doctors measured his blood sugar levels and diagnosed him as diabetic – despite his parents being convinced this was incorrect.
At this point we were really concerned no-one knew what they were doing. It was obvious Shay was very unwell but it felt like sheer panic at the hospital.
We were really worried – no-one was telling us what was happening and Shay was in a lot of pain and discomfort.
Shay, who was diagnosed with autism just before his fifth birthday, was given insulin over a period of two hours, with Laura saying he was given ten times the correct dose.
The family has since learned insulin should be dispensed between 0.1ml and 0.5ml per kg; at 18kg, the maximum amount Shay should have been given was 1.8ml, however he was allegedly given 18ml.
Laura explained what happened in the moments after:
A paediatric consultant came to speak to me around 11pm and said ‘due to the laws of transparency’ they had to tell me about the incorrect dosage.
I asked him what this meant and he said, ‘I honestly don’t know’.
After this, Shay began to deteriorate rapidly, eventually falling unconscious. It was then decided the five-year-old needed to be transferred to Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
Once at the hospital, the consultant told Laura and Martyn they needed to operate because Shay’s heart and lungs were being crushed.
Upon operating on the young boy, ‘they discovered his large intestine had died’ and the surgeon suggested it could have been sepsis that was causing the problem all along.
Shay’s large intestine was removed, after which his vitals improved drastically. However, the five-year-old remained on life support and after performing a CT scan, doctors realised he had suffered a catastrophic brain injury and explained the kindest thing to do would be to let him go.
After realising ‘it was the only thing we could do,’ Laura and Martyn sat beside their ‘beautiful bright red-haired’ boy on April 3 and turned the machine off. Laura said: ‘He went straight away, he didn’t have any fight left in him anymore’.
Shay’s autopsy report showed he died from multiple organ failure from an unknown cause with the possibility of Hirschsprung disease, leading to a bowel infection and causing sepsis. The coroner’s report concluded that Shay did not have diabetes.
The couple have now launched a crowdfunding appeal to raise £12,000 to pay for solicitors to represent them at Shay’s inquest in October.
Laura, an advertising executive, said:
There are two major failings that we need answers to – the overdose of insulin and what effect that had on him and the missed sepsis.
So far nobody has told us the truth and we want to know what happened to our son. We don’t know how to carry on without him. It’s destroyed our whole lives. It’s had such a huge affect on all of us and we want somebody to be held accountable.
Shay was overdosed and he was misdiagnosed at Rotherham General Hospital and it terrifies me that they are still treating people.
South Yorkshire Police carried out a ten-month investigation into Shay’s death but Laura said no further action is being taken. An inquest into his death is due to take place in October.
A spokesperson for Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Rotherham General Hospital, said:
Our thoughts and sympathies are very much with Shay’s family and our medical director has recently written to them about the serious incident investigation which we are currently undertaking.
Given an inquest is scheduled for the autumn, we cannot comment further at this time.
Rest in peace, Shay.
To find out more about Justice for Shay, click here.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).