Baby drowned in three inches of bathwater as mother fainted from adverse reaction to Covid jab

Lawyer Louise Atkinson blacked out and fainted after jab, an inquest into her nine-month-old Eleanor heard

Agency
Friday 13 May 2022 15:54
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A baby tragically drowned in 3ins of bathwater as her mother fainted after having an adverse reaction to the Covid jab, an inquest has heard.

Lawyer Louise Atkinson blacked out as she bathed nine-month-old Eleanor, nicknamed Ellie, the day after receiving the first dose of the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine.

Her husband James came home from a trip to the dentist and pushed open the bathroom door to discover it had been blocked by his unresponsive wife on the floor.

To his horror, he saw their baby daughter face down in the bath turning blue.

Mr Atkinson picked her out of the water and woke his wife by grabbing hold of her. He then laid Ellie on the bathroom floor where he began CPR while calling 999 on speakerphone.

Mr Atkinson, a business manager, carried on the resuscitation attempts until the emergency services arrived six minutes later at their home in Christchurch, Dorset.

Ellie was flown by helicopter to Southampton General Hospital, Hants, but was pronounced dead four hours later on March 23, 2021.

It is not known for how long Ellie was submerged before Mr Atkinson found her, although it could have been as long as 30 minutes.

A post-mortem examination found that 'on the balance of probabilities' the cause of death was inhalation of water or drowning.

Police investigated Ellie's death and concluded it was a 'tragic accident'.

They contacted Public Health England about Mrs Atkinson's adverse reaction to the vaccine and were sent a general report which said 'sleepiness and drowsiness' was an uncommon possible side effect.

The Bournemouth inquest heard Ellie was born premature at 33 weeks and had a heart defect as well as feeding problems which meant she was underweight.

She was due to have heart surgery on March 25 and Mrs Atkinson said she had struggled to sleep or eat in the days beforehand due to 'anxiety' about it.

There was also the added stress of arranging Covid tests for her and her husband so they could accompany Ellie during her planned ten-day stay in hospital, the hearing heard.

Mrs Atkinson said she decided to give her daughter a bath as she had been sick during her morning feed, and needed a 'surgical wash' ahead of being admitted to hospital for the procedure.

She said she began bathing her daughter at 10.30am on March 23 and this would have typically lasted 10 to 15 minutes.

Ellie was sat in a bath seat in three inches of water and Mrs Atkinson told the inquest the last thing she remembers was bending down to lift her out.

An emotional Mrs Atkinson said: "I started to pick her up and that's all I can remember.

"The next thing I can remember is James shouting and pulling at me."

Appearing via video link at the inquest Mr Atkinson wept as he described finding his wife and daughter at about 11.15am.

He said: "I walked upstairs and saw the bathroom door was closed, which was unusual. I started to push the door open but I couldn't open it.

"I forced my way in through the door and picked Ellie out of the bath.

"I laid Ellie on the floor and started CPR and made a call to the emergency services.”

Mrs Atkinson, who is a senior lawyer for the AA, said it was unusual for her to faint and it had only happened twice to her prior to Ellie's death, both times in her late teens.

She said she experienced another black-out while visiting Ellie's grave the day after receiving her second Oxford-Astrazeneca jab in June 2021.

A passer-by saw her fall to the ground and came to her aid.

Mrs Atkinson told the inquest she underwent a seven day assessment after her second fainting episode and while no definite explanation could be reached by professionals, her reaction to the vaccine was cited as a contributory factor.

She said: "I had the Oxford-Astrazeneca Covid vaccine the day before (Ellie died) and looking back I felt strange and not myself.

"On the day after my second jab in June 2021 I went to see Ellie because she is buried quite near to us and we go every day.

"I walked there and crouched down by her side and all I can remember after that was a guy helping me.

"He said he had seen me starting to fall and I was disorientated.

"I had a seven day assessment and no one has been able to offer a definitive explanation, but the conclusion is that it was a reaction to the vaccine very much based on other circumstances as well."

Detective Sergeant Phil Read, of Dorset police, said: "We concluded it was a tragic accident that Ellie had died of drowning in the bath and potentially there were contributing factors to this.

"One being the potential adverse effect of the Covid vaccine. Mrs Atkinson had also had a lack of sleep as they were going through a stressful time.

"She had not eaten and is a slim build. "All these factors could have caused her potentially to have stood up to bend down to pick Ellie up and pass out.”

Dorset assistant coroner Brendan Allen recorded a verdict of accidental death.

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