A hospital has launched an investigation after a 25-year-old pregnant woman died from a suspected epileptic seizure after her medication was changed.
Megan Gardiner was 17 weeks pregnant when she and her unborn son died overnight on June 4 at her home in Barry, South Wales.
Her ‘devastated’ mother Alison Woodcock, 51, has paid tribute to her ‘perfect’ daughter while raising concerns over the epilepsy treatment she received from Cardiff’s University Hospital.
Alison said it was worrying to learn that another pregnant Barry woman, 28-year-old Paige Ellis, died following a suspected epileptic seizure overnight on July 23 after being given new medication by the same hospital.
The hospital has now launched a review but said it has yet to find any ‘immediate care and treatment concerns’.
Alison, a former Barry councillor, described Megan as ‘full of life’ and ‘a thoughtful and caring soul’. She leaves behind boyfriend Jowad Ahmad, father Robert and sister Tesni.
Megan Gardiner, 25, was 17 weeks pregnant when she and her unborn son died overnight on June 4 at her home in Barry, South Wales. (Pictured left to right: Megan, father Robert, mother Alison and sister Tesni)
It is the second loss of a child for Robert and Alison (pictured together) after their middle daughter Ellie died in 2001 of sudden infant death syndrome shortly before her second birthday
It is the second loss of a child for Robert and Alison after their middle daughter Ellie died in 2001 of sudden infant death syndrome shortly before her second birthday.
‘We’ve already been through this once and we’re going through it again,’ said Alison. ‘It’s just devastating.’
Megan, who was living at the family home, had not experienced a seizure since April.
She appeared to be in good form the night before she died, said Alison, who is now a social worker.
She said she only realised something was amiss when she called up to ask if she had taken her medication, as she does every morning.
She recalled: ‘I called her at 9.30am and there was no response. Her bedroom was a mess and I didn’t see her there. I kept trying to ring her and couldn’t get an answer. It was unusual because she was 25 but I’d always know where she was. I thought maybe she had gone into town so I drove through Barry, went into shops, rang her sister.
‘I thought I’d check her bedroom one more time and saw what I’d thought was a pile of clothes on the bed. Where she’d had a seizure, she had fallen down between the bed and the wall. I rang the ambulance service and there was a woman on the phone telling me what do, but I knew there was no point.’
The paramedics arrived ‘really quickly’ but Megan had died some time earlier. Alison called family members who rushed to the home.
‘I’m one of five and I have nephews and nieces,’ she said. ‘We’re all heartbroken.’
The hospital has now launched a review but said it has yet to find any ‘immediate care and treatment concerns’ (Pictured: Megan and boyfriend Jowad)
Megan had battled epilepsy since she was 13. In good periods she would only have one seizure a month but at its worst she could have as many as four in one day.
On one occasion she lost teeth after having a seizure in the street. On others she sustained scars on her cheek and eyebrow.
Because her epilepsy was so severe Megan was taking three medications – Lamotrigine, Brivaracetam and Zonisamide.
Megan and Alison attended an appointment on May 23 at University Hospital of Wales, where Alison says they were told that there was no risk to the foetus from using Lamotrigine and Brivaracetam but that the research around Zonisamide was not clear.
Alison said Megan took the medical advice of upping her dosage of Lamotrigine and tapering off the Zonisamide.
Alison added: ‘Meg really wanted to be a parent. She was happy about being pregnant. Any parent told that taking something could harm their baby would listen to that advice. She wanted to do the best she could for her baby.’
Alison claimed that one of Megan’s recent hospital notes said she had myoclonic seizures, despite her only ever having tonic-clonic seizures.
In an email to the hospital after Megan’s death, Alison wrote: ‘Whilst you say her care met the guidance, I still feel like she was not seen as an individual with epilepsy but in more general terms.
‘The fact that the wrong type of epilepsy was written on her notes reinforces that.
‘With the conversation about removing Zonisamide, had they looked at her notes and seen that her epilepsy was not easily controlled and that was the reason that a third medication was introduced? Why in pregnancy would you look at removing that additional medication…?’
Paige Ellis’ partner Dan Dredge said he believes a similar change in medication was prescribed for her.
The hospital has allocated a consultant midwife to look into the concerns, said Alison.
Alison (pictured holding photo of Megan) claimed that one of Megan’s recent hospital notes said she had myoclonic seizures, despite her only ever having tonic-clonic seizures
She added: ‘We chose for Megan to be buried holding her little boy, resting on her chest. She is buried in Barry Cemetery with Ellie, so the two of them are back together.’
Alison got necklaces for Megan’s boyfriend, sister and father which have Megan’s fingerprint on one side and her baby’s footprint on the other. ‘They will always have something of them,’ said Alison.
She added that Megan was always ‘really easy’ to parent and had a ‘sweet nature’ and would often campaign on social issues.
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board – which runs University Hospital of Wales – said in a statement: ‘Our thoughts are with the families at this incredibly sad time.
‘The concerns are being reviewed in line with our governance process but due to patient confidentiality we are unable to comment on individual cases.
‘Once completed, the investigation findings will be shared with the next of kin and based upon preliminary review we have not identified any immediate care and treatment concerns.
‘We appreciate how difficult this time is for family and loved ones. However, if the families wish to discuss anything further we would ask they speak with their named point of contact.’
Some £7,091 has been raised in Megan’s memory for bereavement support charity 2 Wish after Alison started a Justgiving page.