Malfunctioning pacemaker led to death of Walsall six-year-old, inquest hears

A six-year-old girl with cardiac problems died when a lead connecting a pacemaker to her heart broke, an inquest has heard.

Morgan Hope Smith, of Poplar Avenue, Bentley, Walsall, who was fitted with a pacemaker when she was just one week old, died after the device became fractured.

Black Country coroner Robin Balmain recorded a narrative verdict at the two hour hearing at Walsall Manor Hospital yesterday and said the fractured pacemaker wire and her existing heart problems resulted in her death.

Morgan used the original pacemaker until she was three years old when a new one was fitted to suit her as she grew older.

Morgan’s father Craig Smith said she was fine until around October 2006 when she started suffering chest pains and experienced lower energy levels and over time her condition deteriorated.

She had a catheter fitted to drain excess fluid in February 2007 when it was discovered she would need open heart surgery to correct the problems. This had been earmarked for October that year before the fracture of the pacemaker wire took place.

Wendy Owen, a barrister representing the family, said they were concerned that the surgery had been delayed because urgent dental work, which needed to be completed first, had not been arranged at Birmingham Children’s Hospital because of secretarial problems.

But Dr Joseph De Giovanni, consultant in cardiology, said the open heart surgery may not have taken place before October whether the dental work had been completed or not.

He added that there were no problems with the wire when the pacemaker was changed in 2004 and that, in general, there was a less than one per cent chance to fractures occurring.

Mr Smith said: “I was at work when Morgan died. I had got a phone call from my eldest daughter saying she had been rushed to hospital but that she should be ok.

“I got someone to give me a lift there but I was too late.”