Rajkiran Barhey, instructed pro bono by AvMA, represented the family of Jonnie Meek at the second inquest into his death. Jonnie Meek was a three year old boy with a range of complex needs, including feeding issues and a presumed intolerance to cow’s milk protein.
On 11 August 2014 he underwent a trial of a change of feed in Stafford Hospital. The new feed was less hypoallergenic than the previous feed. Approximately 2 hours after starting the feed, Jonnie died. Jonnie’s mum had always said that Jonnie had gradually deteriorated and she had raised concerns with medical staff. The nurse caring for Jonnie maintained that she had no concerns about his condition until his final collapse.
The Coroner in Staffordshire originally ruled that Jonnie died from pneumonia and that his death was not connected to the change of feed. With support from the Clinical Commissioning Group, the family obtained an independent review of Jonnie’s death which ultimately led to the High Court quashing the first inquest.
Over six years after his death, the second inquest was held this week in Shropshire. Two pathologists and a Paediatric Allergist gave expert evidence. Despite initial significant disagreement between the experts, they agreed that the cause of Jonnie’s death was likely an adverse reaction to the new feed. This formed the basis of the Coroner’s narrative conclusion that Jonnie died from an adverse reaction to the introduction of a new feed.
Significantly for the family, the Coroner made clear that he believed Jonnie’s mother’s account of Jonnie’s deterioration in hospital. The Coroner told Jonnie’s parents that: “I can only describe you as Jonnie’s devoted parents. You have fought and waited a long time, a very long time, for answers to your questions.”