Doctors unable to explain teenager’s fatal heart attack

Oatlands College student Kaelem Hainsworth was found collapsed after pre-debs dance

Doctors are unable to explain why a 17-year-old boy had a massive heart attack and died after attending a pre-debs dance, an inquest heard.

No drugs or alcohol were found in Kaelem Hainsworth's system following his death and there was no evidence of heart disease. Pathologist Dr Aoife Maguire told Dublin Coroner's Court that the cause of his heart attack remains unclear.

The tragic teenager from Newtownpark Avenue in Blackrock, Co Dublin was found collapsed in his friend’s house on November 18th, 2012.

Following his death, the American rock band Green Day paid tribute to Kaelem after learning that he was a fan when his friends launched a campaign on Twitter to draw the band’s attention to his passing.

The inquest heard that he had been at a pre-debs event attended by students of Oatlands College, Stillorgan, and Our Lady's Grove, Goatstown, in the Old Darnley Lodge Hotel in Athboy the night before his death.

His friend Eoin Holohan told the court that three double-decker buses took the students to the venue from the Nutgrove Shopping Centre at around 9.30pm. Kaelem had two cans of Heineken on the way, the court heard. Mr Holohan said that there were other lads on the bus with bags containing blue pills and a powder he believed to be cocaine.

“Kaelem was with me all the way up on the bus and he didn’t take anything and we were not offered anything,” he said.

Even if Kaelem had been offered anything, he would not have taken it, he told the court. He was very anti-drugs and would not even drink excessively, he said. In a deposition read out in court, another friend Canbran Grenier described seeing another boy on the bus crushing up drugs and snorting them using a €20 note.

At the nightclub, Kaelem was drinking bottles of Heineken and one of his friends bought a round of shots. He was dancing, Mr Holohan said, but not to excess. Lily Higgins, who spoke to him in the club and sat beside him on the bus home, said that he did not seem drunk and at no stage did she see him with a drink in his hand. "When we were talking he made perfect sense at all times. He just seemed happy and enthusiastic about being there," she said.

Buses brought the students back to the Nutgrove Shopping Centre at 4am. Mr Holohan said that as they walked to his house Kaelem was complaining that he had a pain in his chest and arm. When they got home, he said the pain was severe and asked for a Panadol. He gave him a vitamin tablet in the hope that it would put him at ease, he said, but as he went to sleep he heard Kaelem saying that it was not working. When he woke up the next morning he saw Kaelem gurgling, shaking and having a fit. He called for help and CPR was carried out until paramedics arrived. Kaelem was taken to St Vincent’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Pathologist Dr Maguire said that he died as a result of a massive heart attack, which involved both chambers of the heart. This is very unusual, she said. The initial event happened at least 12 hours before his death, she told the court. There was no heart disease, no viral infection of the heart and no reason to suspect an inherited condition. A toxicology screen carried out at the State lab tested for over 100 substances and came back negative. There was no alcohol remaining in Kaelem’s system when he died. The cause of the heart attack remains unclear, she said.

The inquest was adjourned until January 27th for further evidence.