A doting young mother died just days before her daughter’s first birthday, after doctors persistently misdiagnosed symptoms of a deadly brain aneurysm, claim her grieving family.
Zipporah Agyei, 21, suffered agonising headaches for weeks but was told repeatedly by her GP that she was probably having migraines.
In October last year, she called the NHS non-emergency number, 111, describing how she could not open her right eye.
Miss Agyei was rushed to hospital where doctors discovered she had two brain aneurysms that had burst. She later died during surgery to try and save her in November.
Her devastated mother, Vivien Adu-Sarfo, 47, said: ‘She was a wonderful girl. A doting mother and daughter.’
Ms Adu-Sarfo handed her granddaughter the birthday presents her mother had bought for her shortly before she died.
Ms Agyei’s family have said that they do not wish to identify her child.
Zipporah Agyei was told repeatedly by her GP that she was having migraines
But weeks later she called NHS number 111 when she couldn’t open her right eye
TIMELINE OF EVENTS
Mid October 2017 – Ms Agyei began feeling persistent pain in her head. Doctors tell her she is suffering from migraines
October 25 – Makes 111 call to say she could not open her right eye, went to Ealing Hospital in Southall where doctors feared she’d had a stroke and sent her to Charing Cross Hospital. Scans indicated she had suffered two brain aneurysms.
October 27 – Ms Agye had surgery to ‘clip’ the vessels but this was ineffective.
A few days later – The young mother woke up after being placed in an induced coma.
November 14 – The 21-year-old died during a second round of surgery.
Ms Agyei, from Wembley, north west London, first began feeling pain in her head in mid-October last year.
On October 25, doctors at Ealing Hospital in Southall, west London, where she went following her 111 call, feared she’d had a stroke. They immediately ordered an ambulance to take her to the larger Charing Cross Hospital in central London.
There, scans indicated she had suffered two brain aneurysms – bulges in the blood vessel caused by weakness in its wall – claims her best friend, student Imani Muhammed, 20.
Two days later, she had surgery to ‘clip’ the vessels – this is when an aneurysm is sealed using a tiny metal clip that stays permanently clamped on to it – but they were ineffective.
The 21-year-old, pictured here with her best friend Imani Muhammed, had two brain aneurysms that ruptured and she died during surgery
The devoted mother, shown here with close friend Khamila, was described as a ‘kind’ and ‘brilliant person’
WHAT IS AN ANEURYSM?
An aneurysm is a bulge in a blood vessel caused by a weakness in the blood vessel wall, usually where it branches.
As blood passes through the weakened blood vessel, the blood pressure causes a small area to bulge outwards like a balloon.
Aneurysms can develop in any blood vessel in the body, but the two most common places are:
- The abdominal aorta – the artery that transports blood away from the heart to the rest of the body
- The brain
Most brain aneurysms only cause noticeable symptoms if they burst (rupture).
This leads to an extremely serious condition known as a subarachnoid haemorrhage, where bleeding caused by the ruptured aneurysm can cause extensive brain damage.
Source: NHS Choices
‘We need to know what happened’
Ms Muhammed, from Watford, Hertfordshire, who received numerous WhatsApp messages and phone calls from Ms Agyei about her agonising headaches, in the run-up to her hospital admission, said: ‘The aneurysms had ruptured – burst.
‘When we saw her, she was in intensive care, in an induced coma. It was so upsetting.
‘She woke up a few days later, but was still very ill.’
On November 14, during a second round of surgery, Ms Agyei died, according to her family, who are not yet clear what caused the aneurysms, but do not believe she bumped her head before they developed.
‘We’re waiting for an inquest,’ explained her mother, who is looking after Ms Agyei’s daughter.
‘We need to know what happened. She was so healthy, we don’t understand.’
‘We are all so, so heartbroken’
Ms Adu-Sarfo, who is still in close contact with her granddaughter’s father, gave her granddaughter presents from her late mother when she turned one on November 27 – less than a fortnight after her untimely death.
‘We are all so, so heartbroken,’ said Ms Muhammed, her friend since childhood. ‘She was a wonderful girl, a wonderful daughter, friend and mum.
‘She was funny and feisty. She was a great laugh and kind. She really was a brilliant person.
Her devastated mother Vivien Adu-Sarfo gave her little girl the presents her devoted mother had left for her
Ms Agyei with friends Monique and Imani Muhammed as schoolgirls in London
The popular young mother, from Wembley, London, pictured with her close friend Monique
‘She was an organiser and she always liked to look her best. She adored her daughter. She was a fantastic, doting mum.’
The family plan to complain to Charing Cross Hospital, part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, about aspects of her treatment, including the speed at which she was initially treated after arriving at the hospital and how the family were not kept properly informed.
A spokeswoman for Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: ‘We send our deepest condolences to the family of Zipporah Agyei.
‘We have not received a formal complaint but would be happy to meet with the family to fully investigate the concerns they’ve raised if they would like to approach us directly.’
A coroner’s officer for Hammersmith and Fulham confirmed they were holding an inquest into the death but a date had not yet been set.
The family have set up a fundraising page in aid of Ms Agyei’s young daughter here.