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Mother tells inquest of moment she found her baby dying after ingesting tiny plastic splinters

By Louise Roseingrave

An inquest has heard that a 19-month-old baby girl died after ingesting a foreign material that fatally damaged her oesphagus.

Baby Stephanie Fazylova swallowed tiny pieces of plastic perspex that lodged in the lining of her oesphagus or food pipe. She was sleeping in her cot by her parents' bed at their home in Grace Park Heights, Drumcondra, Dublin 9, when her mother heard her cough.

Jelena Fazylova sat up and looked at her child lying in the cot next to her bed at 6am on June 26, 2016.

“It sounded like she was going to vomit. I sat up and looked and her and then saw blood starting to come from her nose and mouth,” the child’s mother told Dublin Coroner's Court.

“I started shouting. I said 'Stephanie don’t leave us',” Mrs Fazylova said.

Her husband Alexander Fazylov jumped out of bed and called an ambulance. He had minded baby Stephanie and her older brother Ben the previous day.

The children had eaten lunch, played on their trampoline and travelled with their father to collect their mother from work.

They ate dinner together and at 9pm Stephanie was put to bed and she slept the "whole night through," Mr Fazylov said.

The baby was rushed to Temple Street Children’s Hospital the following morning. She continued to lose blood and a blood transfusion was carried out.

Despite doctors best efforts, baby Stephanie was pronounced dead later that day.

The cause of death was hemorrhage and shock due to an oesophageal ulcerative lesion, due to a foreign body of indeterminate nature, according to a post-mortem examination.

“On the inside part of the oesophagus I found an ulcer trying to heal itself,” Pathologist Dr Deirdre Devaney told an inquest into the child's death.

The ulcer had become inflamed and caused the lining of the food pipe to disintegrate close to a blood vessel. When the blood vessel became inflamed it burst and caused the bleeding that claimed the child’s life.

Under a microscope, pathology staff found tiny splinters of foreign material that appeared to have penetrated the wall of the child’s food pipe. Dr Devaney described the objects as small clear pieces of plastic or perspex that dissolved during the chemical process used to identify it.

“Many children swallow foreign objects like pennies, coins or batteries. This was just extremely unfortunate that a splinter found its way in and damaged the blood vessel wall,” the pathologist said.

The court heard that the baby had been off her food for a few days three weeks earlier.

She was taken to Temple Street at this point, but recovered her appetite and was healthy and well up to the day of her death.

Returning a verdict of death by misadventure, Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane said the child had swallowed something very tiny.

“It’s very rare that there would be such a devastating outcome in the context of a tiny piece of foreign material getting lodged in the oesophagus. This is a rare and tragic event, the loss of a beautiful baby in these circumstances,” the coroner said.