Ramsbottom mum tells of agonising moment dying asthmatic son, 8, begged her ‘please don’t let me die’

A severely asthmatic boy died during a fatal attack only a month after his mother warned housing officials their ‘mouldy and damp’ home in Ramsbottom was affecting his condition.

Aaron Dearden, 8,  a lodge leader at his Beavers group, suffered such chronic asthma that an attack could be triggered simply by him laughing.

Due to his condition, his mother Rachel Turner, 31, had been fighting to get her family re-homed after complaints their rented housing association property had damp and mould throughout the two bedroomed house including the children’s bedroom.

The mother-of-three believed it was contributing to her son’s asthma attacks and she also contacted her local MP in a bid to get her family out of the house.

But Six Town Housing, which owned the former council house, carried out an inspection which stated the property was in good condition.

Tragedy struck just three days after the inspection in April last year after Aaron, from Ramsbottom, near Bury, Greater Manchester, ran into his mum’s bedroom while clutching his inhaler and shouting that he couldn’t breathe.

He collapsed and started turning blue as Miss Turner performed CPR whilst elder brother Charlie, then 10, called an ambulance and ran to a neighbour’s house for help.

On the way to hospital Aaron told Miss Turner: ”Mum don’t let me die,” but despite medics’ efforts he died later in Fairfield General Hospital. Shortly after the tragedy, the family were subsequently moved to a three bedroomed property.

At an inquest into the boy’s death, a coroner recorded a verdict of death by natural causes. Miss Turner, who has taken legal advice over the tragedy said: ”It was only after Aaron’s funeral I was offered a new house – why didn’t that happen sooner.

”If it had, my boy could still be alive today. We will never know.

”The house was a big concern for us. I had tried cleaning the mould myself but it kept coming back. I honestly don’t think he suffered as much with his asthma when he was outside – it was more when he was inside.

Miss Turner said that neighbours petitioned to move the family shortly after Aaron’s death.

She says she had previously approached the housing association but was told they were not in a high enough band, even though they had three children living in one bedroom.

”It was not ideal, it was overcrowded. Within days of us going, workmen were in the house ripping everything out, they gutted it, the kitchen the front doors, everything,” she said.
”We still feel let down. I lost count of how many times I contacted the housing association about the problems.
“The front door was cracked and swollen and every winter they had to come out and remove the door and shave it. The kitchen door was the same and was replaced countless times because it would buckle and wouldn’t shut.
Miss Turner said that all the walls at the bottom of the stairs where the family kept the coats were wet to touch, and the handle of the back door had snapped too.
She said, “In the children’s room there was a built in wardrobe and in the corner it was all damp and was rising upwards. It was and three kids living in a two bedroomed house them after Aaron died we were given a three bedroom house.”
The Heywood inquest was told Aaron had been a healthy child at birth but was diagnosed with asthma at the age of two. Because of the severity of the attacks his primary school would contact Miss Turner and he would often be taken home.
Aaron had various inhalers including a mask and would take two puffs in the morning and evenings and extra when required. He would even wear his inhaler mask whilst watching his favourite film Despicable Me in case he laughed and triggered an attack.
In a statement read to the hearing Miss Turner said: ”Even if something made him laugh that would trigger an attack. Anything could set him off. He always had a little bag with him containing his inhalers and he knew what to do.
”On these occasions when he was short of breath he knew how to self-medicate.”
The hearing was told Aaron’s doctor had expressed concerns the damp in the house could have had an affect on his asthmatic condition and advised Miss Turner to contact the authorities.
Miss Turner told the hearing: “There was damp and mould in the bedroom where he slept, at the bottom of the stairs in the hallway the living room. I did send pictures.
“When I spoke to Bury council they told me to clean it with bleach, then they told me not to because it spreads. We also decorated but it came back.”
The night before his death Aaron had watched TV and played games and had been in a “really good mood” following receiving a gold star from his school on Friday for being the only one to get 10 out of 10 for his times tables
Around 7am the following morning, Aaron came into Miss Turner’s room saying he “couldn’t breathe”. Miss Turner immediately went for his inhaler which was still in his hand and gave him two puffs but he was still struggling to breathe.
Miss Turner took him downstairs but Aaron was so short of breath that he collapsed.
His elder brother Charlie phoned for an ambulance whilst Miss Turner tried to revive Aaron.
Charlie ran to a neighbour for help who had heard the word “ambulance” and “breathing” being shouted from the next door house. Miss Turner was then found by her dying son saying “this isn’t happening – it’s all a dream”.
Pathologist Dr Edmund Cheeseman who carried out a post mortem said there had been some green mucus material within the upper airways of the respiratory system but found no evidence of any ‘fungal elements’.
Coroner Mr Simon Nelson said: ”We all sadly at some stage fear that we have to bury those who are older, but none of us expect at any time to contemplate the unthinkable of having to arrange a funeral for a child.
”I have no doubt with the energy that Aaron had, that he packed more into a short life than many others do into much longer lives.
”He comes across as a bundle of energy, he managed to overcome his illness which would have been such a debilitating thing with amazing courage.
”There is no doubt at all that he is quite inspirational. He managed to overcome the difficulties he had in his own life. He is an example to all those who had the privilege of knowing him.”
Coroner Nelson said there is no evidence to suggest any third-party involvement. He said Dr Cheeseman was not able to confirm any pathologic connection between any external factors and in particular the damp and mould.
“The cause of death equates to a naturally occurring disease process,” he said.
After the case Six Town Housing said the officials carried out its own inspection on April 25, before the little boy died and the independent inspector on May 3, after Aaron died.
A spokesman for Six Town Housing said: “It is an absolute tragedy that Aaron Dearden died from an asthma attack and we offer our heartfelt sympathies to his parents, family and friends.
”Ms Turner previously lived in the property from 2004 and first complained about damp in March 2013.
”An inspector from Six Town Housing and a second – independent – inspector visited the property separately last year and found the property to be in good condition”.

Story via Cavendish Press.

Image courtesy of ParentingPatch, via WikiCommons, with thanks.

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