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‘Why couldn’t hospital save our son?’ plea

Family: Would teenager who suffered head injury while warming up to play basketball be alive if scan had been quicker?

05 January, 2018 — By Emily Finch

Teenager Brian Mpunga: ‘He was the greatest person,’ said his brother

PARENTS of a “caring and polite” teenager say their son may still be alive if doctors had been quicker in performing a brain scan after he was injured on a sports pitch.

In a tragedy which has left relatives and schoolmates in shock, 15-year-old Brian Mpunga died just before Christmas, 11 days after hitting his head while warming up to play basketball at the Sobell Centre, in Holloway.

The prefect at St Aloysius’ College, in Archway, was taken to University College Hospital by his father after suffering memory loss and struggling to stay awake, symptoms of a severe head injury, according to the NHS’s patient website.

“Why they didn’t take it seriously is a good question,” said Brian’s father Jeff. “The way Brian was talking, he was even struggling to open his mouth. He was so weak and tired. He kept falling asleep on my lap in the waiting room.”

Mr Mpunga says he took Brian to the Euston Road hospital at about 11.30am on Sunday December 10 but his son wasn’t given a CT scan, where a bleed in the brain was discovered, until about 5pm – more than five hours after arriving at the hospital. Brian’s mother, Carlotta Jose, said she feels helpless when it comes to ensuring her son’s death is investigated and doesn’t know how to ask a coroner to consider the circumstances.

An officer at St Pancras Coroner’s Court told the Tribune yesterday (Thurs­day) that an inquest had not been opened so far.

Ms Jose said: “This has never happened to my family before. We need help. Why couldn’t the doctors save my son? They [the doctors] just kept asking Brian questions. They tested his blood, but they didn’t take a scan.

Parents Carlotta Jose and Jeff Mpunga with a photograph of Brian

“His brother Vinni said they asked him if he’d taken drugs. We asked the doctors to do a scan and that this boy is complaining about his head, that’s the reason why we’re here.”

She said she even went on her knees to beg for a scan to be performed after she saw her son’s blood pressure soar.

After a bleed was detected by a CT scan, the teenager, who lived in Highbury Quadrant, was moved to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), where his parents were told there would be more neurosurgery specialists.

But they say he lost consciousness while he was being moved on a trolley bed into an ambulance at UCLH.

“Brian was scared because he’d never been to hospital,” said Ms Jose. “It was his first time in an ambulance. He panicked and jumped, with force. He tried to stand. He wanted to run and come to me.”

According to his parents, the ambulance still took him to GOSH, around five minutes away. His father drove to the children’s hospital.

“They were still in a hospital [when he lost consciousness]. I don’t know why they had to drive him away,” said Ms Jose.

Mr Mpunga said: “When they took him out of the ambulance I knew he was gone.”

Brian with heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua

Doctors operated on Brian and fought to save his life but he died on December 21. Cause of death was given as a large aneurysm in one of the main blood vessels, resulting in a brain bleed.

Vinni, 14, paid tribute to his elder brother. “He was the greatest person I had ever met,” he said. “People were always asking him for advice, everyone fully trusted him.

“He had his GCSEs coming up and if you go to our room you will see books and books. He was proper ready for the exams.”

Brian, who had hoped to become an Islington youth councillor, is also survived by his sister ­Holly, 13.

Dozens of Brian’s friends gathered at Finsbury Park basketball court last Thursday to pay their respects and lay flowers. A date for his funeral has yet to be set.

This week, health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced non-urgent surgery would be postponed as the NHS struggled to cope with large numbers of patients in A&E.

A UCLH spokeswoman said: “We would like to offer our sincere condolences to Brian’s family and loved ones. We are sorry for their loss. We are investigating this case and will be keeping the family updated on our findings.”


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