Family Remembers the Life of Rare Patient Following Tragic Death

According to a story from Chronicle Live, 36 year old Donna Campbell was found unresponsive in her hospital bed on June 22nd, 2019. She was officially pronounced dead the following day after attempts to revive her failed. Donna had two rare diagnoses: spina bifida and Chiari malformation. After being admitted to the hospital in January with sepsis and low blood pressure, an investigation determined that neglect played a role in her demise, with her food and beverage being left out of reach.

About Chiari Malformation

A Chiari malformation is a small structural defect that impacts the cerebellum in which at least one of the cerebellar tonsils are pushed downward. Symptoms of the malformation include vomiting, dizziness, poor coordination, problems swallowing, headaches, speech issues, neck pain, and numbness/tingling sensations in the hands and feet. Treatment for Chiari malformations include surgery and medications to manage symptoms. To learn more about Chiari malformation, click here.

About Spina Bifida

Spina bifida is a birth defect in which the back bone does not fully close around the spinal cord. The area most typically affected is the lower back, but it can also appear along the mid back or neck. Symptoms range widely in severity but can include poor walking or inability to walk, abnormal eye movement, leg weakness or paralysis, club foot, scoliosis, skin conditions, poor kidney function, and incontinence. Treatment typically involves surgery. To learn more about spina bifida, click here.

Donna’s Story

Donna’s spina bifida meant that she never learned to walk and was relegated to a wheelchair. However, this didn’t stop her from maintaining an active social life and she became a regular customer at many of the clubs in the Wallsend area. She become something of a local legend in the process. Though she underwent many surgeries and other challenges due to her complex medical circumstances, Donna was able to live fairly independently, with only one assistant to help her shower in the mornings.

Donna was originally a native of Killingsworth where she grew up with her father Ian, aged 59; her mother Karen, aged 56; and siblings Amy and Lee, aged 33 and 35 years respectively.

Donna’s long term stay at the hospital seemed fraught with problems from the onset, as the family was bogged down with paperwork. Eventually concerns about her care led to the family submitting a formal complaint. In the days leading up to her death, she had expressed feeling fatigued and had often taken to bed early. However, there were no signs to explain her cardiac arrest on June 22nd. 

The family is still hoping for a clearer understanding of the circumstances surrounding Donna’s passing.


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