A three-year-old girl who contracted chicken pox developed fatal seizures and died, an inquest heard.
The mother of Cristina Motreanu initially thought she was choking on a piece of raw turnip and tried desperately to clear her airway before calling an ambulance.
However, test results revealed the girl developed a rare form of epileptic seizures and this prompted the choking episode.
“She was a beautiful, happy child, she was born special. She only had one lung but she was more active and playful than so many other children.
“She loved to play outside with her brother Robert and she loved going to playschool. She was our beautiful joy,” the child’s mother Elena Motreanu said, speaking after an inquest.
Cristina was feeling tired at home at Cruise Park Drive, Tyrellstown, Dublin 15 on January 23rd, 2018. Her brother Robert, who was three years older, had chicken pox and her mother said Cristina developed a rash the previous day.
“She was at home and happy and playing but later she got tired and I told her to stay in bed. I had given her a piece of raw turnip and she was eating it. Then I heard a cough from behind the couch and her face turned blue and I called for help,” Mrs Motreanu said.
The child began having a seizure and was taken to hospital. Paramedics found no blockage in her airway.
At Temple Street Children’s Hospital, Christina was diagnosed with new-onset refractory status epilepticus (NORSE), a life-threatening condition in which a healthy person without a previous history of seizures begins having seizures. Medics could find no cause for the seizures.
Cristina’s condition deteriorated and she died in hospital on January 31st, 2018.
An autopsy gave the cause of death as brain damage due to lack of oxygen due to seizures, with chicken pox as a contributory factor.
"The reason she died was brain damage due to lack of oxygen, due to continuous seizing. It's not possible to say whether choking was relevant one way or another but it is relevant that she had chicken pox at the time," Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane said.
Returning a narrative verdict, the coroner noted that no cause for the onset of the seizures was identified. The coroner sympathised with the child’s parents, Elena and Doru Motreanu, who are from Romania.
“It is very complex evidence and must be very difficult for you as a family not to have exact answers and so distressing for you to have lost your beautiful little girl,” the coroner said.