Tragedy as 24-year-old dies from kidney failure after doctors neglect to treat her properly - with one even blaming her symptoms on an eating disorder

  • Danielle Stretton, 24, had a miscarriage caused by kidney failure in 2009
  • But it was never investigated so in 2010 she had a kidney transplant
  • She began feeling unwell again but her GP said it was an eating disorder 
  • Was awarded compensation but was found dead in her flat on Boxing Day

A young woman died after a catalogue of medical errors meant doctors failed to investigate her kidney failure - while one even blamed her symptoms on an eating disorder.

Danielle Stretton was just 24 when she was found dead in her flat on Boxing Day last year.

Her mother, Ruth Braddock, has spoken of her devastation at losing her daughter so young, and says she will now set up a charity to help other young people with the disease, normally seen in the elderly.

Mrs Braddock, 58, said: 'On Christmas Day we took her home and said we'd see her again on Boxing Day hoping she'd be feeling better.

Danielle Stretton died from kidney failure at just 24, after doctors failed to treat the problem when it was discovered in 2009

Danielle Stretton died from kidney failure at just 24, after doctors failed to treat the problem when it was discovered in 2009

Miss Stretton's kidney failure was discovered in 2009
She was released from hospital and her kidney problems were not discussed with her or her family

Miss Stretton's kidney failure was discovered in 2009 when she suffered a miscarriage, but doctors failed to investigate it any further

'The events that followed were unthinkable - the next day she wasn't answering her phone so we went to the flat and had to break down the door.

'Danielle was just lying on the floor by her bed.

'It is beyond horrific. We cannot imagine our lives without our beautiful girl in it – we are utterly devastated by what has happened.'

Chronic kidney disease (CKD), a long-term condition where the kidneys do not work effectively, is normally only seen in older adults, and is most common in people aged over 65.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, CKD is present in half of people aged over 75 years, but only 1 in 50 young people. 

After her kidney failure went untreated, Miss Stretton began feeling ill and vomiting, but her GP mistook the symptoms for an eating disorder

After her kidney failure went untreated, Miss Stretton began feeling ill and vomiting, but her GP mistook the symptoms for an eating disorder

WHAT IS KIDNEY DISEASE? 

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a long-term condition where the kidneys do not work effectively. 

CKD does not usually cause symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage. It is usually detected at earlier stages by blood and urine tests. 

Main symptoms of advanced kidney disease include:

  • tiredness
  • swollen ankles, feet or hands (due to water retention)
  • shortness of breath
  • nausea
  • blood in the urine

CKD is common and mainly associated with ageing.

It is estimated that about one in five men and one in four women between the ages of 65 and 74 has some degree of CKD.

CKD is more common in people of south Asian origin (those from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan) and black people than the general population. 

The reasons for this include higher rates of diabetes in south Asian people and higher rates of high blood pressure in African or Caribbean people.

There is no cure for chronic kidney disease, although treatment can slow or halt the progression of the disease and can prevent other serious conditions developing.

People with CKD are known to have an increased risk of a heart attack because of changes that occur to the circulation.

In a minority of people, CKD may cause kidney failure, also known as established renal failure (ERF) or end-stage kidney disease.

In this situation, the usual functions of the kidney stop working.

To survive, people with ERF may need to have artificial kidney treatment, called dialysis, or a kidney transplant.

Source: NHS Choices

Miss Stretton, who worked for Gala Bingo, began suffering health problems in 2008, when she became lethargic and weak, but the cause was not identified.

In 2009, she was hospitalised at the Queen's Medical Centre (QMC), in Nottingham, with chronic stomach pains.

She was pregnant at the time, and when she suffered a miscarriage, doctors carried out tests and found the miscarriage had been caused by kidney failure.

Despite writing this in her medical records, staff at the hospital failed to investigate her renal failure, or discuss her kidney problems with her or her family, her mother claims. 

When she was discharged from hospital, her health deteriorated so rapidly she was forced to move back home to be looked after by her mother.

Feeling ill and suffering vomiting, she went to a GP, who suggested the symptoms were the result of an eating disorder.

Knowing she didn't have a problem with eating, and still feeling incredibly ill, her mother suggested she go to see a nurse.

The nurse carried out a blood test and later called her to break the devastating news of kidney disease.

In fact, her kidneys were at 'end stage failure' – also known as stage five.

Miss Stretton was rushed for an emergency blood transfusion to stabilise her condition.

Her mother said: 'Doctors said they could not believe Danielle was still alive when she had the transfusion.

'She then immediately had a course of dialysis, which was really tough on her.'

Doctors carried out an emergency kidney transplant in October of 2010, which took a serious toll on Miss Stretton's health as her body initially showed signs of rejecting the new organ.

After the transplant, Mrs Braddock contacted Thompson's solicitors to begin a medical negligence claim on her daughter's behalf.

A review of her medical notes found the life-threatening disease had been missed by the Queen's Medical Centre.

Miss Stretton had a blood test which confirmed she had kidney disease, and was in end-stage kidney failure
She was rushed to hospital for an emergency blood transfusion and later had a kidney transplant

Miss Stretton had a blood test which confirmed she had kidney disease, and she was rushed to hospital for an emergency blood transfusion and later had a kidney transplant

It was ruled there had been a lapse in their duty of care in August 2009, as she had been discharged from hospital with no investigation into her kidney failure, despite it being noted as the cause of her miscarriage on her medical notes.

Miss Stretton was awarded £30,000 of compensation on the grounds that her condition should have been treated when it was first discovered.

Mrs Braddock said: 'After Thompson's secured compensation for my daughter last year, she was just starting to look to the future after what had an extremely traumatic and unstable time.

'She used the compensation to find a new flat, furnish it and make a new start for herself.'

 We cannot imagine our lives without our beautiful girl in it – we are utterly devastated by what has happened
Ruth Braddock, 58

Unfortunately, after moving into her new flat, Miss Stretton once again began to feel increasingly unwell.

She spent Christmas Day with her family, but began to feel sick, so they took her home with the promise of visiting on Boxing Day.

The next day, her family phoned her at her flat but received no answer, and she didn't come to the door when they went over there and knocked.

After breaking the door down, her family found her dead.

Sharon Banga, a clinical negligence solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors, who secured compensation for Miss Stretton, said: 'It is so tragic that Danielle lost her life at such a young age, and so difficult for the family to come to terms with what has happened.

'Danielle should never have been discharged from hospital in 2009 without further investigations into her renal problems.

'Medical practitioners have a duty of care for their patients, and Danielle's condition should not have been missed or ignored.'

After her transplant she was awarded compensation, but just as she had moved into her new flat and celebrated Christmas with her family, she was found dead

After her transplant she was awarded compensation, but just as she had moved into her new flat and celebrated Christmas with her family, she was found dead

Mrs Braddock is now setting up a charity in her daughter's name for young people with kidney failure, to help other families like her own.

She said: 'We realised early on in Danielle's illness that there were simply no services for young people with kidney failure.

'It is a disease predominantly associated with older people but it can affect anyone.

'We've called the charity Danielle's Flutterbyes, as she was absolutely fanatical about butterflies.

'The charity will look to help people aged 16-30 with renal disease – we want to achieve something positive in memory of our beautiful little girl.' 

Dr Keith Girling, Deputy Medical Director at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: 'We extend our condolences to Danielle’s family.

'Our investigation into the care provided to Danielle when she was treated as an emergency patient in 2009 found that important test results weren’t followed up when they should have been, leading to a delayed diagnosis of renal failure.

'We shared the findings of our investigation in full with Danielle’s mother and have completed a financial settlement with the family.