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25-Year-Old Father Dies After His Cancer Was Mistaken For Appendicitis

25-Year-Old Father Dies After His Cancer Was Mistaken For Appendicitis

A young man from Manchester has lost his battle with cancer aged just 25, after medical staff failed to recognise his diagnosis until it was too late.

Staff at Greater Manchester's Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust believed that Tom was suffering from appendicitis when he was first admitted to hospital in August 2014.

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Tom Thornton, from Oldham, sadly passed away just nine weeks after he was diagnosed with advanced cancer of the appendix, and now an inquest has heard that he 'wasn't given a fair chance', reports the Mirror.

In a statement read to the court, Tom's wife, Chantelle, said: "I don't feel Tom was given a fair chance. He meant the world to me. We don't want this happening to anybody else."

Credit: MEN
Credit: MEN

In the final weeks of his life, Tom was able to marry Chantelle and see the birth of his son, Maxwell Joseph, three weeks before his death.

Tom first went to the walk-in centre at North Manchester General, after complaining he'd been suffering from abdominal pain for five days. After being admitted to A&E, Tom was listed for surgery to take out his appendix but the procedure was delayed.

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Professor Matthew Makin, Medical Director at the trust, said the delay in the procedure was documented by doctors but 'the reason was not'. This was the start of what is believed to be a series of bad record keeping, poor management and lack of communication, the inquest heard.

Tom's father, Kevin Thornton, described his son as 'wonderful' and told the court that he didn't think 'anybody took it seriously'.

Royal Oldham Hospital. Credit: PA
Royal Oldham Hospital. Credit: PA

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Following Tom's surgery, his appendix was taken away and examined by Dr Khalid Ahmed at Royal Oldham Hospital to check if there were any malignant cells.

However, with added pressure to return the samples within ten days, due to staff shortages, Dr Ahmed worked overtime to meet demands and failed to spot that the cells in Tom's appendix were cancerous, the coroner heard.

Tom was then discharged from hospital, until two months later when returned complaining of a pain on the scar left by the surgery. Tests were carried out to see if Tom had suffered a blood clot, but was then sent back home after Dr Muhammed Islam decided there were no concerns.

Tom, a rugby player and personal trainer, reportedly told his family: "If they're not worried, I'm not worried."

But then, just two weeks later, Tom returned to hospital complaining of more abdominal pain.

Credit: MEN
Credit: MEN

A CT scan was carried out in November that year, which is when doctors finally diagnosed Tom with advanced cancer.

He had one round of chemotherapy, but wasn't well enough to have any further rounds because his cancer had spread to too many parts of his body.

Tom died at Springhill Hospice in Rochdale on 27 January, 2018.

Professor Makin admitted that there had been a number of failings in Tom's care.

He said: This has been a very painful and prolonged process for the family. We've harmed the family by the fact that his process has been so prolonged and they have had to work so hard for a truthful apology."

"I want to apologise on behalf of the trust for our failings, first of all not diagnosing the cancer and the chance of life prolonging treatment at a time when he was fit enough to benefit from it."

Featured Image Credit: MEN

Topics: uk news, NHS, Cancer, Health

Megan Walsh

Megan is a freelance journalist and sub-editor with a BAHons degree in Journalism and Communications. Since graduating from London Metropolitan University, she has worked as a sub-editor and writer for Candis Magazine and later contributed to publications such as The Skinny, Creative Tourist and Huffington Post, among others.