8-month-old baby died of pneumonia and sepsis at Blackpool Victoria Hospital after accidentally drowning in bath

An 8-month-old baby girl died from pneumonia and sepsis after accidentally drowning in an over-filled bath tub in August 2020.
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An 8-month-old baby girl died from pneumonia and sepsis after accidentally drowning in an over-filled bath tub in August 2020.

Isabella Porter-Gray had been briefly left in the bath with her older sister, aged 22 months.

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When their mum returned, little Isabella had come out of her bath-seat and was ‘lying on her back in the water’, at their home on Beaufort Avenue in Blackpool.

Baby Isabella entered cardiac arrest for 35 minutes

At a short inquest today (Thursday, September 14) the court heard how the previously healthy child succumbed to a tragic ‘near-drowning experience’. This caused her to go into cardiac arrest for approximately 35 minutes, on July 19, 2020.

She was left severely brain-damaged, and although doctors did everything they could to help her, she died three-weeks later when she developed sepsis and pneumonia during her stay at Manchester Children’s Hospital.

Inquest follows a lengthy and complex investigation

At Blackpool Town Hall, assistant coroner, Louise Rae, heard how the tiny baby had come out of the bath-seat, while sitting in water that was 20cm deep – ‘well above’ the recommended level on the chair.

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She died over three weeks later, on August 11, 2020, at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

DI James Lillystone, the Head Duty Detective Inspector with Blackpool CID said this level would have been ‘significantly higher’ when the children were sat in the bath.

DI Lillystone confirmed that this was not a suspicious death, but had involved a ‘lengthy and complex investigation’ which began when he attended the scene on July 20.

On life-support at Manchester Children’s Hospital

David Porter, the father, had immediately called an ambulance while the mother, Sarah Gray, stayed with the children in the bathroom.

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Isabella was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital, and later transferred to Manchester Children’s Hospital, where she was kept on ventilation.

She remained stable, until Saturday, August 01, 2020 – when she began suffering seizures.

She then returned to Blackpool for palliative care.

Little girl was left with a ‘hypoxic ischemic brain injury’

Appearing via Microsoft Teams, Home Office forensic pathologist Dr Jonathan Medcalf told the court how Isabelle had developed a ‘hypoxic ischemic brain injury’, caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain during cardiorespiratory arrest.

Dr Medcalf explained: “If a child is submerged to a degree and breathes in water, it is extremely dangerous, as it interrupts normal respiration.”

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Concluding the case, the coroner said that Isabella’s cause of death was sepsis and pneumonia, which was due to a hypoxic ischemic brain injury caused by drowning.

She added that the drowning was ‘accidental’.