Blackpool mum collapsed and died suddenly after suffering sore throat

A Blackpool mum who collapsed and died after taking a sore throat spray prescribed by her GP did not suffer an allergic reaction to the drug.

Friday, 20th December 2019, 5:00 pm
Maria Haworth and her husband John
Maria Haworth and her husband John

Maria Haworth, 50, suffered a cardiac arrest and severe swelling to her airway within just a few minutes of taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug on January 21.

Her husband John, 54, said: “She said ‘John, I can’t breathe, call an ambulance’. She then collapsed, and I held her. She collapsed in my arms.”

Mrs Haworth was taken by ambulance to Blackpool Victoria Hospital. A scan on January 22 revealed she had suffered a brain injury due to lack of oxygen; she was pronounced brain dead the following day and her life support machine was turned off.

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At her inquest on Thursday, coroner Alan Wilson heard that Mrs Haworth, who was a long-term smoker and frequently suffered chest infections, visited Highfield Surgery, South Shore, on January 21 with a sore throat and difficulty swallowing.

She was examined by Dr Michelle Martin, who diagnosed her with a lower respiratory tract infection and prescribed her antibiotics and a throat spray.

The court heard that Mrs Haworth was allergic to ibuprofen, and that a warning had ‘popped up’ on the doctor’s computer screen when prescribing her the spray.

But Mrs Haworth told Dr Martin and a nurse, Chiara Winter, that she was able to take the spray.

Her records showed that she had taken the same medication three times before.

Dr Martin said: “I asked her if she had had it before. She gave an emphatic yes. I asked her if she had had any adverse reactions, she said no.”

At 7.30pm, Mrs Haworth collapsed in the kitchen of her Strettam Avenue home.

Dr Suboda Weerasinghe, who carried out the postmortem, said he believed Mrs Haworth died of natural causes.

He said she died from bronchopneumonia caused by COPD, contributed to by heart disease.

Handing down a narrative conclusion, Mr Wilson said: “(Mrs Haworth’s) condition was felt to be critical and that she had suffered a significant brain injury due to a lack of oxygen. Despite ongoing treatment her condition proved unsurvivable and she died on January 23 in the Intensive Care Unit. A subsequent postmortem examination confirmed evidence of a right lower lobe bronchopneumonia and no evidence to indicate anaphylaxis (an allergic reaction).”

Mr Haworth said: “The past 11 months have been the worst of my life. Losing Maria has been unbearable and we all miss her so much.

“I first met Maria in the mid 80s and she became the love of my life. She had a heart of gold and would have done anything for anyone.

“She was such an incredible woman who was taken from us far too soon. It is very difficult to accept that she won’t be here for Christmas and I really don’t know if I will ever come to terms with losing her.

“The inquest and having to listen to the evidence as to why Maria died has been very difficult. However, we needed to honour her memory by finding out why she died.”

Zoe Donohue, the specialist medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell who represented Mrs Haworth's family, said: “It has been an incredibly difficult year for Maria’s loved ones.

“While nothing can make up for their loss we are pleased that we have been able to obtain some further information regarding the circumstances of Maria’s death.

“We will continue to support the family at this distressing time”.