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Girl, three, dies of cancer four days after being sent home from hospital with constipation

Francesca Sio, 3, dies of cancer four days after being sent home from hospital with constipation

A three-year-old girl died after 'overly optimistic' doctors repeatedly dismissed her serious illness as simple constipation, her parents claim.

Francesca Sio died of a heart attack four days after father John and mother Lorraine were sent home from a hospital with laxatives and told to care for her themselves.

A post-mortem revealed that doctors missed the true cause of the blockage – a 5cm tumour putting pressure on her bowel.

Shortly after her death, a senior hospital doctor told them: 'What happened to Francesca was very rare. It was bad luck.'

Last night Mr Sio, 36, a financial consultant from Bromley in Kent, said: 'That made us feel so angry.'

Francesca died ten days after John had taken her to their GP suffering a fever and struggling with bowel movements. 

He diagnosed constipation and prescribed a laxative. Six days later Francesca became increasingly distressed so the Sios took her to Princess Royal Hospital in Orpington, Kent, where she was examined by a GP and a paediatrician who also diagnosed constipation.

A nurse tried to insert a suppository but it failed to work and they were again sent home with laxatives.

Four days later Francesca woke at 4am, crying and struggling to breathe. She went into cardiac arrest, caused by a blood clot related to the tumour which got lodged in a lung. 

Paramedics were called but despite their efforts, she was pronounced dead soon after at 5.37am.

Francesca became increasingly distressed so the Sios took her to Princess Royal Hospital in Orpington, Kent, where she was examined by a GP and a paediatrician who also diagnosed constipation

Mr Sio said: 'We feel that at every point she was let down by the medical professionals she came into contact with. We believe Francesca exhibited symptoms that were looked at by a number of doctors overly optimistically, instead of with caution, meaning crucial diagnostic tests were not undertaken.'

Lorraine, also a financial consultant, said: 'Francesca was a Disney-princess-loving angel – always cheerful, fun-loving and easy-going. She meant the world to us.'

Francesca's cancer was an extremely rare ovarian 'yoke sac' tumour, but if it is identified in children early enough survival rates can be as high as 70 to 80 per cent.

The family were initially denied an inquest on the grounds Francesca had died of 'natural causes' on April 1, 2017, but one was granted after they appealed to the High Court and will be held in November. 

The couple's barrister, Dr Anton van Dellen, said: 'We hope the inquest will cover what the law says it should – matters that could have caused or contributed to Francesca's death.'

A spokesman for the Princess Royal said: 'Francesca Sio died of an extremely rare tumour, which was identified during a post-mortem.

'When she was seen in the emergency department the symptoms were consistent with constipation.

'Following Francesca's death we undertook a review of the case and sought an external opinion which did not identify any deficiencies or missed opportunities in her care that would have resulted in a different outcome.'

A spokesman for NHS Bromley Clinical Commissioning Group, which oversees the GP surgery were she was first seen, said: 'Due to the ongoing inquest, we cannot comment further at this time.' 

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