‘Cry for help’ from mother, inquest hears

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A mother-of-two died 116 days after taking a drug overdose in what an inquest deemed was most likely a “cry for help”.

Deborah Tilley, 28, of Princess Drive, Grantham, was admitted to Grantham Hospital on January 14 after taking an overdose of drugs including statins.

Miss Tilley was initially treated in Grantham Hospital before being transferred to Lincoln County Hospital on January 16.

Doctors found the drugs had caused serious damage to her lungs and it soon became clear that her best chance of survival would be through extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) treatment.

However, only a limited number of hospitals offer ECMO. Initially she was to be transferred to Glenfield but as there were no beds available she had to be taken to Papworth, Cambridgeshire, instead on January 21.

Miss Tilley spent more than 100 days at Papworth but doctors found progress was “unusually slow”. Other complications such as cardiac arrest, failed kidneys and deflated lungs weakened Miss Tilley further to the point she died on May 10.

Coroner’s officer Colin Allerston gave evidence in which he said he had spoken to Miss Tilley’s father on the telephone about her time at Papworth.

Mr Allerston said: “He tells me she did have periods of being able to communicate with him in the 100 days at Papworth.

“She assured him it was more a cry for help than an intention to take her own life.

“He is of the belief she did not think taking those tablets would end in her taking her own life. She felt she would recover from them.”

In concluding the evidence assistant coroner Paul Smith said: “It was intended, primarily, as a cry for help rather than an intention to bring an end to her own life.”

Mr Smith recorded a narrative verdict, finding Miss Tilley died from an overdose of medication but added there was insufficient evidence to establish her intention to the required standard.