Baby died after serious illness was misdiagnosed as cow’s milk intolerance

A two-month-old baby girl died from septic shock after medics thought her illness was caused by a cow’s milk intolerance.

Nailah Ally, from Crawley, West Sussex, was diagnosed with a hole in her heart and necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) – a serious illness which sees the gut become inflamed and shutdown – shortly after her birth in October 2019.

She was taken to East Surrey Hospital on December 28, 2019, with a swollen stomach and received treatment for suspected sepsis.

But doctors did not perform the relevant test on the large bowel to see whether her intestine could have narrowed due to NEC.

They instead changed the formula she was feeding on and sent the family home, meaning Nailah’s bowel was left untreated and she went into septic shock.

Her parents Laila Tobota, 26, and Emmanuel Ally have now been awarded compensation.

The couple instructed lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her care under Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs East Surrey Hospital.

An NHS investigation showed a consultant believed Nailah might have had an intolerance to cow’s milk and changed her formula.

She was sent home from the hospital on January 7, 2020, with a follow-up appointment scheduled three days later.

The following day Nailah went into septic shock and an X-ray showed a suspected perforated bowel.

Her condition worsened and she died on January 13, 2020.

A post-mortem examination found she died from multiple organ failure caused by NEC and a narrowing of the intestine.

Ms Tobota, an HR manager, said: ‘While it’s three years since Nailah died the hurt and pain we feel is still as raw now as it was then.

‘She was the most adorable and beautiful child who didn’t deserve the suffering she had to go through in her short life. Nailah was an absolute fighter and so brave until the end.

‘We felt that some staff were dismissive of our needs and that nobody on any ward rounds or staff handovers really asked us about our child.

‘It felt like Nailah’s feeding issues were often put down to milk intolerances rather than the focus being on her medical needs.’

Emily Mansfield, a medical negligence expert representing the family, said: ‘The last few years and coming to terms with Nailah’s death has understandably been incredibly traumatic for Laila and Emmanuel.

‘Nailah’s case not only vividly highlights the dangers of sepsis but the potential consequences of poor communication between doctors as well as between doctors and families.’

A spokesperson for trust said: ‘We are very sorry for the experience Nailah’s family had at East Surrey Hospital and our deepest sympathies remain with them at this very difficult time.

‘We take any death extremely seriously and as a trust we have already investigated and put in place a thorough action plan to ensure we learn the lessons needed, and importantly, improve our care for future patients.’

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