Why did Nicolas die after leaving hospital?

MONTHS of waiting for answers lie ahead for the family of a toddler who died suddenly in Orange the week before Christmas after previously being discharged from Orange hospital.

Orange police are preparing a report for the coroner after the parents of the toddler woke to find he had stopped breathing on the morning of December 17.

Liane Charnock, the grief-stricken grandmother of two-year-old Nicolas Charnock, has told the Central Western Daily of the family’s anguish in the lead-up to the toddler’s death after they had sought medical assistance for Nicolas at Orange hospital on the afternoon of December 15.

Ms Charnock said on that day her son telephoned to ask her to go to their house for her opinion on the health of the toddler who was unwell.

“Michael said, ‘Mum he [Nicolas] isn’t too well’, and when I arrived I could see he had a temperature and a cough so I went with his parents to the hospital,” Ms Charnock said.

The grandmother said the toddler was quickly triaged by the nurse on duty at accident and emergency before being taken into the department for treatment.

“I said to the nurse this looks like the same thing he had three or four months ago - can you look it up on the computer?” she said.

Ms Charnock said after a doctor prescribed the drugs Prednisone and Panadol and the little boy was kept under observation, his parents were told he could go home.

“He came out in a rash while we were at the hospital and his mother Shannon said he wasn’t any better and she wanted to stay,” Ms Charnock said.

The boy’s condition remained unchanged the following day, according to his grandmother, who said his parents made him comfortable on the lounge at home watching a DVD during the day and taking him into their bed at night.

The toddler’s grandmother broke down as she told of the nightmare phone call she received on the morning of December 17 to say her grandson had stopped breathing and paramedics were on the way.

“They were closing the doors to the ambulance just as I pulled up and we all raced out to the hospital,” Ms Charnock said.

The nightmare wait for family members accompanied by a nurse in a room near the accident and emergency department was broken when a doctor walked in to deliver the news no family wants to hear.

“He told us that he believed a virus had affected Nicolas’s heart and that he had passed away,” Ms Charnock said.

“I remember my sister screaming out, ‘Don’t you tell us Nicolas is dead’, and then my son started throwing up ... it was horrific.”

The toddler’s body was sent to Newcastle for an autopsy which is expected to provide important information for the coroner who will hand down a finding as to the cause of death or recommend an inquest.

Acting Inspector Brendan Turner of Orange police said police were preparing a report for the coroner that could take several months.

Ms Charnock said the toddler’s family were struggling to find the courage to return to their family home which is full of memories of the toddler and his two older brothers at play.

“He was just the most beautiful little boy,” she said.

Orange Health Service general manager Catherine Nowlan has issued a statement of condolence to the toddler’s family and has told the CWD she can’t comment on the issue as it is before the coroner.

TRAGEDY:  Two-year-old Nicolas Charnock died two days after being discharged from Orange hospital.

TRAGEDY: Two-year-old Nicolas Charnock died two days after being discharged from Orange hospital.


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