Bacteria in dripfeed killed children: Treatment for leukaemia had lowered victims' immunity. Jonathan Foster reports

BACTERIA in dripfeed fluid caused blood poisoning which led to the deaths of two leukaemia patients within five days at the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital, public health research revealed yesterday.

Timothy Davies, nine, had received a bone marrow transplant; he died on Wednesday. Belinda Coffey, five, was being prepared for a transplant and died last Saturday.

Their distraught parents last night demanded a full inquiry. Treatment which diminished their immunity left both children vulnerable to a common bacterium, Enterobacter cloacae, which the hospital believes entered their bloodstreams in a feeding solution which should have been sterile.

Two other patients were infected. One was last night 'critically ill' in intensive care; the other has recovered. 'We are confident that no other children in the hospital are at risk and, since the outbreak was identified, no more of this fluid has been made-up at the hospital,' Dr Jennifer Hill, director of public health for Salford and Trafford, said. 'We are confident the source of the infection is definitely not blood, blood products or bone marrow. The feeding solution is not prepared on the wards, and the infection is not contagious.

'We are therefore able to reassure parents and children that the steps we have taken have been successful in controlling the outbreak.'

Two pharmacy technicians are responsible for preparing the feeds. The solutions are meant to be mixed in an area made sterile by air filtration. Ingredients are handled with double-layered gloves in apparatus similar to equipment used for radioactive material.

The bacterium is usually harmless, an organism found commonly in human intestines, and in soil, water and sewage. The technicians and other staff who worked closely with the children were 'very concerned and very upset', David O'Neill, the hospital general manager, said.

Screening of staff had failed to identify the source of the infection. Disciplinary action had not been considered. The feed preparation regime, in use at the hospital for two years, had been checked regularly. 'There were no microbes in the system on Wednesday, and on Thursday there were,' Mr O'Neill said.

Timothy, from Darwen, Lancashire, was re-admitted to the hospital because doctors were anxious that his recovery at home might be jeopardised by infections. Marrow had been donated by his brother, Mark.

Belinda, from Disley, Cheshire, was due to travel to the United States because available marrow donors in Britain were unsuitable.

The hospital also treated Laura Davies, the five-year-old who died in Pittsburgh last year after protracted transplant therapy.

The Royal Manchester, in Pendlebury, was refused trust status last year because of a pounds 2m deficit. Mr O'Neill said that financial remedies had not affected medical standards.

Timothy's father, Peter, said: 'I'd like to shoot the people responsible for this. Something has gone wrong all along the line. We have got to make sure that it never happens again.'

Mr Davies, a factory worker, said he and his wife, Hazel, made the decision to switch off Timothy's life- support machine on Wednesday. 'Tim fought hard to beat leukaemia. He was doing so well.

'When he was at home we had to keep him in isolation and give him vacuum-packed food to prevent infection. He had to go back into hospital to make sure he was free from infection. Can you believe it?'

Ann Alexander, solicitor for Belinda Coffey's parents, said they wanted to mourn their daughter's death in private and would be making no comment.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
News
i100
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Day In a Page

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride