‘Brave fighter’ from Co Antrim, 10, died following surgery

David-Lee Clark suffered a series of medical misfortunes
David-Lee Clark suffered a series of medical misfortunes

A young Lisburn boy who died following bowel surgery was a “fighter” who fought “a very brave fight until the very end,” a coroner has said.

Ten-year-old David-Lee Clark from Tonagh Gardens spent almost a month in hospital after being admitted to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in December 2014.

‘Dee Dee,’ as David-Lee was known, suffered from autism and epilepsy, and a side effect of his medication was weight gain – his obesity increasing the risk of complications as a result of the surgery on his bowel.

Having evaluated the risks involved, both Dee Dee’s family and the health professionals decided that surgery was preferable to the debilitating impact of his medical conditions.

Explaining that decision yesterday, his mother Lee-Anne Clark said it was “a hellish choice for any parent to make,” and added: “I chose to give Dee-Dee the best life possible.”

In his findings, coroner Patrick McGurgan reflected on medical evidence that revealed a series of misfortunes, including a post-operation bowel kink and then a second adhesive small bowel obstruction, described as a “one in 7,000 chance” of occurring.

Dee Dee had his first surgery on December 10. A subsequent scan showed fluid in his abdomen and he underwent further surgery in an attempt to remove the signs of infection.

Referring to the doctors’ decision to carry out a third operation on December 30, the coroner said: “I find this was the correct decision at this time.”

Further surgery was carried out the following day as Dee Dee’s condition continued to deteriorate. He died on January 1, 2015.

In relation to evidence provided by infectious disease specialist Professor Nigel Klein, the coroner said: “According to Professor Klein, earlier surgical intervention would not have altered the outcome for the deceased and the correct investigations were performed and the treatment course was logical.”

Mr McGurgan found the cause of death to be “multiple organ dysfunction syndrome,” due to “severe systemic inflammatory response syndrome,” which led to sepsis.

Following the inquest, Ms Clark said: “My hope is that the treatment of autistic children will improve in Northern Ireland. Nothing can bring Dee-Dee back. I just hope his case, in which he fought so hard, can have a positive and long-lasting impact.”