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Talented footballer, 13, dies just hours after learning she has cancer

Tanisha Baverstock, 13, died 52 hours after finding out the shadow on her lung was blood cancer. She was sent home with antibiotics and the radiologist only questioned the X-ray 20 hours after she left

The mother of a teenage girl who died the day after being told she had cancer has condemned medics for failing to diagnose it earlier.

Talented footballer Tanisha Baverstock succumbed to lymphoma – a blood cancer which is treatable if quickly identified – on January 31.

The 13-year-old had suffered for weeks with a persistent cough and weight loss. She was finally referred to hospital by her GP, where an X-ray found a shadow on a lung that the consultant said ‘didn’t look normal’.

But Tanisha – who had been given trials by the Arsenal girls’ squad – was only given antibiotics, and was discharged from the hospital at Salisbury without a radiologist being asked for their opinion.

Minutes later, a radiologist did look at the X-ray, recognised signs of a tumour and tagged it on the hospital’s internal recording system as a ‘Code Red’ – meaning urgent action was needed.

However, Tanisha was an outpatient rather than an inpatient, as the radiologist thought, so the alert was not followed up. It was not until 20 hours later when the radiologist asked an on-duty paediatrician about a ‘very abnormal chest X-ray’ that staff realised Tanisha had gone home.

They hurried to contact her family and it was evening by the time she was admitted to Bristol Royal Children’s Hospital (BRCH) so treatment was postponed until the next day.

Tanisha tragically died after being rushed to Bristol Royal Children’s Hospital (pictured). Her treatment had been postponed until the next day and doctors tried to remove fluid obstructing her heart and lungs

Tragically, Tanisha died that afternoon – 52 hours after the X-ray – as doctors tried to remove fluid obstructing her heart and lungs. 

An NHS Serious Incident Inquiry report into the case concluded: ‘If the patient had been seen at BRCH some days earlier it is likely that there would still have been some risk to her but this may have been substantially less. Assuming treatment could have been given, her lymphoma could have been successfully managed.’

Tanisha’s mother Kelly, 39, from Swindon, said: ‘You don’t recover from the loss of a child, especially when she has been so badly failed by her doctors. One day she is sent home with antibiotics. The next I get a phone call saying she has cancer. It was spotted immediately yet nothing happened. These were wasted hours which could have given Tanisha a chance.’

Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust said an extensive investigation had been conducted but as an inquest was pending it would be inappropriate to comment.

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