Heart surgery

Max Warr’s death in Southampton Hospital after heart surgery ruled an accident

A SCHOOLCHILD with ‘the whole world ahead of him’ has died after undergoing surgery that was supposed to give him ‘new life’, an inquest has heard.

Max Warr was just 13 when he suffered cardiac arrest following heart surgery at Southampton General Hospital.

Attempts by medics to resuscitate him resulted in ‘catastrophic’ and ‘unsurvivable’ brain damage to the teenager, as he lacked oxygen.

He tragically died on March 15, 2020 – in what coroner Ms Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp called a “very traumatic event” for everyone involved.

READ MORE: Boy following complications from heart surgery

The hearing at Winchester Coroner’s Court was told that having been born with a complex congenital heart condition – meaning his heart had not formed normally – Max had already undergone a number of surgeries.

After being treated at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, Max’s care was transferred to Southampton General Hospital where he underwent surgery to replace a “deeply malformed” pulmonary valve on March 11.

His uncle Robert Kilby, 57, said Max was “a boy who had the whole world ahead of him”, and added: “There were endless hopes for him – none of which came true, which was the tragedy.

“This operation would have been a new life. It would have improved his physical condition and given him a much healthier and brighter future.”

Lead surgeon Mr Nicola Viola told the inquest the risk to Max was ‘relatively low’ and early signs in theater suggested the operation would be successful.

But as a result of the procedure, Max – a pupil at Wallingford School near his home in Warborough – suffered cardiac arrest after arriving in a pediatric intensive care unit.

Amid ‘chaotic’ scenes, the inquest heard that CPR treatment led to ‘dramatic’ and ‘rapid’ bleeding in his chest.

Dr Gareth Chalton, a now retired consultant anesthesiologist who cared for Max during his operation, agreed: “The tragedy is that the external massage seems to have caused this bleeding.

“The emotions of everyone involved are very high because of the drama. There are a lot of people – voices going up, which isn’t perfect but it’s natural, calling for blood, calling for drugs .

“It’s a very stressful situation and difficult to handle smoothly and calmly. It’s impossible to do that.”

Tragically, Max was left ‘exsanguinated’ – meaning he had no more blood in his system as it had accumulated in his chest – and as a result his brain was deprived of oxygen for several minutes. .

After two days of resuscitation, Max’s care was withdrawn.

Mr Viola told the court that the tragedy had “affected [him]self and [his] team widely”, and added: “This is not at all the result that we were predicting”.

He admitted that the assessment of Max’s condition had not been good enough.

“Max didn’t receive the care he should have received,” he said. “I thought Max’s coronary arteries were safe. That assessment wasn’t good enough.

“It’s something we have to change.”

Max’s mum Sarah Kilby, 57, said her son – who loves dogs – was a “cheeky, funny guy”.

She added: “We will never know what he would do now. He was a good boy and we miss him so much.

“I would like to say thank you to all the staff who tried to save Max’s life. I know it was not easy. Thank you for all your efforts.”

Hampshire County Coroner Ms Rhodes-Kemp called Max’s death accidental, saying that despite best efforts, people can be ‘overcome by circumstance’.

Sarah’s partner Philip Warr, Max’s father, died of a sudden heart attack in 2008.

After her son’s death, Sarah led a campaign to name and sponsor a medical detective dog in Max’s memory, which raised £12,500.

Robert and Max’s aunt Carly ran a six-peak challenge in Somerset with their dog Dyce to help raise money for this ‘living memorial’ to their nephew.

Max’s kidneys and pancreas were donated – providing the gift of life for two more people.