A grandmother, aged 67, may have been the first person to die in the UK from coronavirus – with her family urging a coroner to investigate.
Sally Mayer, from Newchapel, in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, suffered with a bad cough and breathlessness during a hospital stay in December before passing away on January 10.
Her cause of death was put down as a pulmonary embolism, weeks before the deadly bug spread across the UK, reports StokeonTrentLive.
The first recorded death linked to Covid-19 came later that month, and North Staffordshire coroner Emma Serrano agreed to probe the pensioner’s case at a pre-inquest review on Wednesday.
Mrs Mayer was initially admitted to hospital for a hip operation last December. While there, she needed to be put on oxygen for several days.
She was then discharged from Stafford’s County Hospital, only to be admitted to sister hospital Royal Stoke on Boxing Day with a bad cough and breathlessness.
Her family want to know if the symptoms she suffered were due to Covid-19 and if that played any part in her death.
The Office for National Statistics has previously revealed the earliest recorded death linked to coronavirus in the UK was in the week ending January 31. It was a hospital patient from Kent, who was in his eighties.
Mrs Mayer’s daughters Adele Alcock and Janine Kirk said their mum was discharged from County Hospital on December 23.
Adele said: “She seemed OK for the first day. She then started to complain about chest pain.”
Janine had also become concerned over her mum’s condition at that point. “She started to have shortness of breath. She was off her food,” she said.
“She then started to cough so much that the neighbour heard her through the wall on Christmas night.”
The family say a close relative, who had just returned from Spain, also fell ill with a chest infection. He had seen Mrs Mayer before her operation and they were both put on oxygen at the same time, but in different hospitals.
They don’t know if the medical conditions were connected.
But Adele added: “My mum went in for a hip operation and died with an acute lung condition.
“We want answers about why she was discharged home and if she had Covid.”
At a pre-inquest review into her death yesterday, North Staffordshire area coroner Emma Serrano agreed to look into these issues.
But she referred to a doctor’s comment that the ‘chest x-rays do not have high specificity for Covid’.
Ms Serrano told the family: “I will be getting information from ITU staff. It may be we can’t get a definitive answer to that. But we will do all we can to try and get an answer for you.”
She said the scope of the inquest will also include Mrs Mayer’s treatment and care, the decision to discharge her, the discharge planning and the readmission to hospital.
The full inquest hearing is set to take place on March 5.
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