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Frustration at Delayed Inquest into Darlington Man’s Death

North-East Man Contracted Fungal Infection



A Darlington widow, who is still awaiting an inquest into her husband’s death 19 months on, has urged the hospital where he died to provide the information the Coroner needs so that she can finally understand the circumstances surrounding his death.

John Meek, 68, underwent a successful kidney transplant at Newcastle Freeman Hospital in April 2008 and looked set to make a full recovery but after being transferred to the James Cook for aftercare his condition deteriorated and he suffered a catalogue of complications.

Mr Meek contracted the fungal infection Aspergillus which caused a brain abscess resulting in loss of sight and loss of balance and, during his extended hospitalisation, he was infected with the superbug Clostridium Difficile which eventually caused his bowel to perforate. Sadly he died in January 2009.

Now his widow, devastated by the length of time it has taken for the Hospital to provide the information needed for a full inquest to take place, has appointed medical law and patients rights specialists at the north east office of law firm Irwin Mitchell to investigate a legal claim.

She said: “My husband’s death was as a result of a catalogue of unexpected complications which I want to see investigated in public so that lessons can be learnt for the future. He died 19 months ago but we have not yet been given the inquest that would help to answer so many of the questions that we still have.”

Mrs Meek hopes the case will highlight the need for an increase in hospital standards and prevent other families from going through similar ordeals. She added: “John’s last few months were very traumatic and he died a painful and miserable death – his kidney transplant went well and there is every chance he would still be alive today had he not contracted Aspergillus. 

“He had no other medical problems other than his kidney-related condition prior to being admitted to James Cook University Hospital. Worse though is the likelihood that other patients may be suffering unnecessarily. I just hope other families do not have to go through what we have been through.”

Stephen Winn, medical law and patient’s rights specialist at Irwin Mitchell, added: “This is a very sad case indeed. What started as a successful, life-changing operation has ended in tragedy.

“We are investigating a case of clinical negligence against James Cook University Hospital which we hope will ensure that failings are identified and lessons learnt so that people who have to regularly attend the Renal Ward can be assured that they will be cared for professionally and in a safe environment.

“Aspergillus is hazardous to the general public and is commonly found when renovation work is done on buildings. For this reason guidelines lay down procedures that should be followed when performing work in any public place to protect the public.”