Coroner Rules On Opera Singer’s Death

Lawyer Says Investigation Will Continue


The family of an international opera singer have paid tribute to their 'bubbly and humorous' daughter, after the coroner at an inquest into her death returned a narrative verdict.

Amy Black, from Hedon, near Hull, was just 36 and looking forward to a long career as an international opera singer at the time she died, less than six months after undergoing heart surgery at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London.

Mr Geoffrey Saul, Coroner for East Riding and Kingston upon Hull, returned a narrative verdict at the Hull Coroner’s Court on 20 September 2010 after two days of hearing evidence.

Linda Black, Amy’s mother, said: "Amy was a vivacious, bubbly and humorous girl with an unbelievable talent for singing, but sadly her life and career were cut short. Nothing can ever be done to bring Amy back to us."

In his verdict, Mr Saul explained how Amy had died on 24 November 2009 due to a fatal cardiac arrhythmia, which came about as a result of insufficient blood flow in her heart.

Margaret Ryan, the family's solicitor at law firm Irwin Mitchell, said: "Unfortunately questions still remain unanswered as to why Amy developed the 80 per cent stenosis which led to her death.

"However I hope the inquest has gone someway to providing the family with some of the answers to their questions about why Amy died."

He also stated that the blood supply to Miss Black’s heart had become restricted by 80 per cent stenosis (narrowing) of the coronary arteries, which had developed in a short period of time after she underwent surgery on 3 June 2009 to replace her aortic valve.

Despite all of the witness evidence heard at the two day inquest, including expert evidence from two independent medical witnesses instructed by the Coroner, Mr Saul was unable to reach any conclusion as to why the stenosis had developed so quickly after surgery.

The inquest also heard how Amy was seen by her consultant at the Royal Brompton Hospital on 28 July 2009, four months before her death, yet he did not detect any problems and discharged her for a further 12 months.

Furthermore, it emerged that she was seen by two individual GPs on 12 November and 17 November 2009 after complaining of a shortness of breath on exertion, a dry cough and chest wall pain, but again no problems were detected and she was not sent for further investigations.

Irwin Mitchell is continuing to investigate whether Miss Black’s medical treatment contributed to her death, in order to provide the family with the answers they need.