A DEVASTATED mum has paid tribute to her “blue-eyed angel” who died suddenly after catching a childhood bug – previously thought to be harmless to fit children and adults.
Tahlia Raven, three, from Queens Road, Southend, died in her bed just hours after happily playing in the sunshine.
An inquest at Chelmsford Coroner’s Court heard Tahlia had contracted the common parvovirus – or slapped cheek – a respiratory problem which can cause red cheeks.
The court was told it was “extremely rare” for the illness to prove fatal and a specialist paediatrician said she had not heard of any other cases involving healthy toddlers in the UK.
Speaking after the inquest, Tahlia’s mum, Karen Glover, said: “Tahlia was my beautiful blue-eyed angel, loved by everyone and will always be my beautiful girl forever.
“She did not go alone, part of my life went with her the day the angels called her home. I miss you more then words can say and if I had one wish it would be to hold you in my arms again.”
Below: Tahlia (right) with sister Annaliese
She added: “She was healthy before this. I have been told it is very common in play schools and nurseries and we don’t know why it killed her.”
The inquest heard Mrs Glover found Tahlia at about 8am on June 2, last year. Dr Marion Malone, a specialist paediatric pathologist based at Great Ormond Street Hospital carried out an extensive post mortem and microbiology tests to establish the cause of death.
She found no evidence of heart disease, meningitis or pneumonia.
Mrs Malone told the court: “I have to consider all possible causes of sudden death in a previously well three-year-old child.
“The only significant thing I did find was a very swollen brain and some inflammation of the wind pipe.”
Further microbiology tests found Tahlia’s wind pipe was severely inflamed and there were infected cells in the brain, heart and liver.
Very rare: Pathologist Dr Marion Malone
She said: “I identified parvovirus from the heart and brain. It is very common in children and known as slapped cheek disease.
“On the balance of probability I put down the cause of death as parvovirus. This is very rare. I have not seen a case before which caused such swelling of the brain.”
Mrs Glover said Tahlia had a heart defect, but feels nothing could have been done to save her daughter.
She said: “The inquest has brought me closure, but because I’m not a doctor I don’t know if I’m happy with the findings. What wasn’t said at the inquest is that the post mortem showed a slight heart defect, which might have meant she couldn’t fight it off.
“If we had gone to the doctor, all they would have given us would be Calpol.”
Natural causes: Coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray
Coroner Caroline Beasley- Murray recorded a verdict of natural causes and said: “Tahlia sadly died at home, a sudden unexpected death of a little girl who seemed perfectly healthy.
“She clearly was much-loved and was playing in the sunshine the day before.”