Tragic death of Dena, 10

Dena Hale
Dena Hale

A MOTHER is demanding answers to why doctors failed to diagnose her 10-year-old daughter with epilepsy in the years leading to her sudden death from the condition.

Dena Elise Hale was discovered dead in her bed at her Altofts home when her mum Debbie went to wake her for school on the morning of March 3, 2011.

She had suffered an epileptic fit in her sleep. And despite attempts to resuscitate her by her dad Stephen and paramedics she was pronounced dead at Pinderfields Hospital.

An inquest heard the Altofts Junior School pupil died as a result of “Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy”.

And coroner David Hinchliff said there had been “a missed opportunity” by medical staff to diagnose the condition after visits to Newland surgery in Normanton and Pinderfields.

Dena had previously complained of waking up with slurred speech and pins and needles in her tongue.

Speaking after the inquest teacher Mrs Hale, 37, said: “We’ve been through hell since Dena died and we’re still going through it.

“Dena was a lovely, friendly girl who lit up a room when she walked into it. She should have been at high school now, playing with friends, spending time with her family.

“We tried so many times to get answers - but no-one would listen to us.”

The inquest heard Dena had been to her GP surgery in August 2009, where she was seen by a locum doctor. Despite their notes stating “refer to specialist”, the referral never happened.

Dena eventually saw a specialist after visiting Pinderfields A&E department in January 2010, after showing signs of having a fit.

She was tested for signs of epilepsy, which came back negative, but they were only carried out while she was awake and not asleep. Mr Hinchliff said the latter should have taken place.

Switalskis Solicitors said a claim for medical negligence would now be pursued by the family.