'Healthy' girl, 12, dies with Covid just six days after getting 'minor cough'


'Healthy' girl, 12, dies with Covid just six days after getting 'minor cough'

Fabiana enjoyed a trip to Paris with her primary school (Image: Corpus Christi RC Primary School)Fabiana Zoppelli, 12, was described as a "generall

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Fabiana enjoyed a trip to Paris with her primary school (Image: Corpus Christi RC Primary School)

Fabiana Zoppelli, 12, was described as a “generally healthy” child who enjoyed music, food and would “always offer a helping hand” to those in need. However, the youngster fell gravely ill with COVID-19 last year and died in less than one week.

One doctor described her case as the worst he had seen in a child throughout the entire pandemic. 

Fabiana’s inquest yesterday heard she contracted a minor cough on June 1 and her mother, Itohan Ehiggie, called doctors on June 3 after she developed a rash and started vomiting.

The youngster was rushed to A&E in Oldham, Greater Manchester, where medics suspected she had a chest infection.

But she tested positive for coronavirus on June 5, Manchester Evening News reports.

Fabiana’s condition worsened and she was transferred to Manchester Children’s Hospital and put on a ventilator.

Fabiana Zoppelli

Tributes have been paid to Fabiana, who died with coronavirus (Image: Corpus Christi RC Primary School)

Doctors said her temperature was reading 40C and her oxygen became increasingly “harder to maintain”.

A nurse also noted how she looked “pale and tired” through the glass window to her bed.

By 6am, Fabiana was breathing at an increased rate – up to 90 times per minute.

Medics agreed the youngster should be referred to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool to be placed on a xtracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine.

The treatment would help with cardiac and respiratory support.

But while she was leaving hospital on a mobile ventilator on June 7, she went into cardiac arrest.

Despite desperate attempts to save her, Fabiana tragically died.

Fabiana Zoppelli

Fabiana Zoppelli was described as a ‘generally healthy’ child (Image: Corpus Christi RC Primary School)

Speaking at the inquest, her mother, Mrs Ehiggie, said Fabiana enjoyed music, food and helping others.

She told the court her daughter would “always offer a helping hand” to those in need, particularly younger children.

Fabiana moved to the UK with her family from Italy in March 2015.

The court heard how she had an extremely rare condition called floating-harbor syndrome, meaning she had a short stature, grew at a slower rate and had delayed speech development.

When her school closed at the start of the pandemic, Fabiana stayed inside, regularly watching TikTok videos on her phone.

Mrs Ehiggie, of Oldham, told the court no one else in her family had fallen ill with coronavirus or previously displayed any symptoms.

Fabiana Zoppelli

The youngster, of Oldham, died in June last year (Image: Corpus Christi RC Primary School)

The inquest heard how there was a delay in the Royal Oldham Hospital receiving Fabiana’s PCR test result.

The positive result was not sent until 9.30pm on June 5, two days after she had a swab taken.

Fabiana’s mother was not made aware of this result until 12 hours later.

However, the court heard how the delay in receiving the result would not have impacted Fabiana’s treatment.

Speaking during the inquest, Mrs Ehiggie asked why her daughter could not have been transferred to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital sooner.

Doctors said this was due to Fabiana being in an extremely unstable condition at the time.

Rochdale coroner's court

The two-day inquest was heard at Rochdale Coroner’s Court (Image: Corpus Christi RC Primary School)

Giving evidence, paediatric consultant Prakash Kamath, of Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “It was a very new illness and the belief at the time was that children did not suffer complications from Covid.

“At the time, Covid was very less understood, not just for adults, even more for children.

“We have never seen children suffering from Covid complications like Fabiana did.

“We believed she would turn a corner and get better.

“I have never seen any child transferred for intensive care in the last 18 months.

“This is a very unusual case in a child.

“We can only assume she contracted Covid somewhere in the community.”

Summing up the inquest, assistant coroner Nicholas Flanagan ruled that Fabiana died as a result of natural causes.

This was due to paediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) caused by coronavirus.

Mr Flagan ruled that floating-harbor syndrome may have contributed to her death but it did not lead to it.

He said: “Fabiana was very, very unwell and was exceptionally unlucky to have the lung difficulties she developed at the same time of the paediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome.

“She was generally a healthy child before she developed a cough, despite no known Covid contact.

“Every effort was made to make sure Fabiana survived.”