A tiny baby died at just a month old after the treatment she needed to keep her alive caused organ failure.

Darcie-May Piggott lost her fight for life in the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle where she was being treated for her complex congenital heart disease in March last year.

Her young parents were praised for the strength they have shown at an inquest into her death at Newcastle Civic Centre on Thursday.

Born to parents Lucy Piggott, now 17, and Ryan Elliott, 16, on February 12 last year, Darcie-May had shown no signs of any underlying conditions throughout pregnancy.

She had been born at 37 weeks and weighed just 2.7kg but there was no immediate concern.

However, shortly after her birth it became clear that something was wrong and she was admitted to University Hospital of North Tees with rapid breathing.

Darcie-May, from Stockton-on-Tees, was diagnosed with a complex heart defect and transferred to the Freeman, which has a Children's Heart Unit.

Dr Yamuna Thiru, a Consultant Paediatric Intensivist, gave evidence at the inquest and detailed Darcie-May's extensive medical and surgical history.

She told the inquest that Darcie-May had a failure with the right side of her heart which made surgery essential. She was then placed on an ECMO (Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation) Machine and taken back to Intensive Care.

Numerous CT scans, investigations and chest explorations came in the following weeks and it was found Darcie-May had developed problems with her lungs so she was given steroids.

The Freeman Hospital in Newcastle Upon Tyne
The Freeman Hospital in Newcastle Upon Tyne

On March 13, a clot was found to be blocking one of her arteries near the heart and lungs so the blood was not being oxygenated and this led to further surgery to remove it.

Throughout all of this, Darcie-May was unable to be weaned off the ECMO Machine to breathe on her own, Dr Thiru said.

Darcie-May Piggott
Darcie-May Piggott

A further surgery followed and she came back from theatre very unwell and in a critical condition.

Dr Thiru said: "Mum and dad were there and they knew that she might not survive and it was becoming clearer and clearer that she was not going to and that being on the ECMO machine was just prolonging her suffering."

After taking Darcie-May off the machine, she passed away peacefully 10 minutes later with her mum, dad and Dr Thiru by her side.

When asked by Coroner Karen Dilks if she believed anything different should have been done, the doctor replied: "In hindsight, spotting the clot in the artery. But looking back over everything, in the long term, it wouldn't have made a difference.

"The heart and lungs were already significantly damaged from long periods on the ECMO machine. We did everything we could have done for Darcie."

Dr Thiru added: "It has been very difficult for mum and dad as young parents but they were incredibly strong and were always asking the right questions and put up a strong fight for Darcie." 

Newcastle Civic Centre
Newcastle Civic Centre

Pathologist Dr Srinivas Annavarapu told the hearing: "I have concluded that it was the thrombotic complications related to long periods on the ECMO which is responsible for the multi-organ failure but the ECMO was required and the main cause of death was the complex congential heart disease."

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Coroner Karen Dilks concluded the hearing by saying: "I am going to say that Darcie died due to a combination of natural causes but also complications of surgical treatment of those natural causes.

"I was impressed to hear what Dr Thiru had to say about how you two coped in very difficult circumstances and I would also like to give you credit. It must have been a very difficult time and your strength and courage should be given full credit.

"If I may, I would like to extend my sincere personal condolences to you on the loss of your daughter."