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Last Updated: Monday, 29 March, 2004, 14:29 GMT 15:29 UK
Video film proved baby's illness
Generic video tape
Sheryl Donnelly filmed baby Spencer's coughing fits
Health bosses have apologised to a mother whose baby was diagnosed with a serious disease only after she had shown doctors a film of him coughing.

Sheryl Donnelly, of Parson Cross, Sheffield, had taken her 10-month-old son Spencer to her GP's surgery seven times before making the video.

A doctor at the Buchanan Road surgery then referred the case to hospital where Whooping Cough was diagnosed.

The practice has apologised to Ms Donnelly over the case.

Different GP

Sheryl Donnelly told a newspaper: "I knew there was something wrong with Spencer, but you tend to put your trust in GPs when they say not to worry.

"I couldn't take Spencer out of his pram because the cold air made him cough.

"He used to cough so much sometimes his little face turned purple.

"I saw a different GP every time and they all told me not to worry and just keep an eye on him.

When my partner showed the consultant the video he was flabbergasted
Sheryl Donnelly
Ms Donnelly said she told the doctors the baby had not been immunised against whooping cough because she was worried about the safety of the injection.

"Yet they still did not pick it up. Spencer got so poorly, at one time I thought he was dying because he wasn't breathing properly."

The distraught mother picked up her video camera and recorded a five-minute sequence of a coughing fit.

"When my partner showed the consultant the video he was flabbergasted...he asked for a copy of the tape for the hospital to use for training purposes."

Dr Jeremy Wright, director of public health for the north Sheffield Primary Care Trust, said: "We are very pleased that Spencer has made a full recovery and are sorry for the distress his illness will have caused both him and his family.

"The practice has apologised to her and is taking the whole episode very seriously.

"Having discussed Spencer's case with them we are satisfied that they are taking steps to prevent something like this happening again."




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