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Parents of young woman who died following surgery still looking for answers

Will Jones
01/03/2021
The parents of a young woman who died following surgery on a benign cyst on her spine say they are still looking for answers following an inquest into her death last week.

20-year-old Chanel Nelson from Walthamstow elected to have the surgery following advice from her doctor at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Stanmore in January 2020. Surgery was delayed for six months, until June 2020.

Chanel Nelson

Ross and Pamela Nelson, who have two younger children, are concerned that the six month delay in their daughter's operation meant the cyst had grown so large that the risk of surgery was much greater. Chanel died on the operating table when doctors were unable to stop her bleeding following a massive haemorrhage caused by a vascular injury. Chanel suffered cardiac arrest and attempts to resuscitate her failed.

Her surgeon admitted that by the time he came to operate on Chanel, the cyst was much bigger than he expected.

The inquest at Barnet Coroner's Court was originally scheduled for two days, but only lasted for 3-4 hours until the coroner, Mr Andrew Walker, concluded death 'as a consequence of surgery'.

Will Jones from Fieldfisher, investigating Chanel's death on behalf of her parents, said there are ongoing questions as to why Chanel's GP took so long to refer her to the orthopaedic unit of RNOH considering she had complained of back pain for nearly two years previously, and whether appropriate imaging via angiogram before the surgery would have revealed the size of the tumour and altered the outcome.

Mr Jones said that, as with every inquest, listening to the evidence surrounding their daughter's death was 'horrific' for her Pam Nelson. Her husband had not been well enough to attend.

"Virtual inquests are a necessity during Covid," Mr Jones said. "But not being able to physically be with and support clients is very distressing. Technical limitations also contribute to further stress and upset for the family.

"I hope that our ongoing investigations will provide more detail of why Chanel died and provide some relief to her family."

Pam Nelson, who works as a nurse, described her daughter as "a beautiful, intelligent young woman. She had her whole her life in front of her and I cannot believe she has gone from our lives. Chanel was a very hard-working A* student and she could have done whatever she put her mind to. She had so much potential and was a joy to be around."

Pam said the whole family was devastated by Chanel's death, not least since they were unable to be with her because of Covid restrictions.

"The loss of Chanel has caused unbearable grief for us all – none of us was able to say to goodbye or be with her when she died and that breaks my heart.

"I have continued to work as much as I can but have been unable to fulfil my obligations. I am very scared at what the future holds as it has been so difficult to function since we lost Chanel. The rest of the family has been struggling to cope, I know that we must try and move on with our lives but it is so difficult to do while there are still so many questions around why Chanel died.

"I have read all the documents relating to Chanel's death but there is still so much I do not understand."

Pam said the whole family was 'devastated'  by Chanel's death, not least since they were unable to be with her because of Covid restrictions.

"The loss of Chanel has caused unbearable grief for us all – none of us was able to say to goodbye or be with her when she died and that breaks my heart.

"I have continued to work as much as I can but have been unable to fulfil my obligations. I am very scared at what the future holds as it has been so difficult to function since we lost Chanel. The rest of the family has been struggling to cope, I know that we must try and move on with our lives but it is so difficult to do while there are still so many questions around why Chanel died.

"I have read all the documents relating to Chanel's death but there is still so much I do not understand."

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