Epileptic dad, 44, died four days after hitting head during seizure at home


Dad Carl Wilkes died in hospital after hitting his head during a seizure at home.

The 44-year-old had surgery at the Royal Stoke University Hospital after tests showed he had a bleed on the brain.

The surgery went well, but Mr Wilkes’ condition deteriorated and he died after developing pneumonia.

Questions had been raised about the high level of noradrenaline which Mr Wilkes, of Kidsgrove, had been given to stabilise his blood pressure while in hospital.

But an inquest has found the drug did not have any adverse effects and had not contributed to his death.

His brother, Adam Wilkes, said Mr Wilkes was a registered alcoholic who had recently started drinking again after 10 years of abstinence. He suffered from epilepsy that was linked to his alcohol abuse.

He said: “Carl had been free from alcohol for 10 years. Over the last few months he began to drink heavily again. Recently he had been suffering seizures regularly.

“He lived with his new partner. During the evening he had been at home with her and a friend. They had been drinking.

“Carl started a seizure and fell in the hall, bumping his face into the door frame.”

Following the incident – at Mr Wilkes’ Attwood Street home on April 10, 2019 – he was taken by ambulance to the Royal Stoke. A CT scan revealed a bleed on the brain and he had surgery in the early hours of April 11. 

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Another scan then showed another bleed, for which he had a further operation. When medics later tried to bring him out of sedation, he suffered another seizure. His condition worsened and he died on April 14.

Concerns were raised at the hospital that the high doses of noradrenaline which Mr Wilkes received could have caused a heart attack or organ failure, and the matter was referred to the coroner for investigation.

But a post-mortem examination showed the cause of death was pneumonia.

Dr Ramprasad Matza, who treated Mr Wilkes in intensive care, said the patient’s blood pressure following surgery had been extremely low, and the noradrenaline had been given in an attempt to remedy this.

Dr Matza said: “It was a necessary part of his treatment. If it was not given, it would have had a negative effect on him if he had survived.

“His death was due to a combination of everything that had happened to him. He was recuperating from a major operation. He had a seizure when he woke up from sedation. He had a bad chest infection. He was not in a position to overcome all these things at once. I don’t see that the noradrenaline had an adverse effect.”

Assistant coroner Margaret Jones concluded that Mr Wilkes’ death was due to an accident, which was contributed to by alcohol.

She said: “Mr Wilkes was an alcoholic. He had alcohol-related epilepsy and his fits had increased, sometimes to twice a day.

“It seems he was drinking and had a fit. He fell and injured his head in the fall.

“He had surgery, which was satisfactory. After surgery he had a very low blood pressure which required noradrenaline. There is no evidence whatsoever that he suffered any ill-effects from the noradrenaline.

“He developed bronchopneumonia which was eventually the cause of his death. His other problems meant he could not recover from it.”





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