A young Dublin woman with a very rare genetic disorder died suddenly after suffering a nosebleed while out socialising in a pub in Swords three years ago, an inquest has heard.
However, the coroner, Dr Clare Keane, said the death of 26-year-old Lauren Rodgers from Melrose Park, Kinsealy was not a direct cause of her suffering from Job Syndrome – a rare immunodeficiency condition.
A post-mortem carried out on Lauren’s body found she died after her airways became obstructed by blood and blood clots from a nosebleed she suffered at the Empire Bar on Main Street, Swords on January 13, 2018.
Dr Keane, who returned a narrative verdict, said she could not say conclusively that the nosebleed was linked to Job Syndrome but would note that it might have been a contributory factor.
Only about 250 cases of Job Syndrome worldwide, which is estimated to affect one in every million individuals, had been diagnosed up to 2007.
At the time of her birth in May 1991, Lauren was believed to be the first Irish person known to suffer from the condition which was only first diagnosed in 1966. The condition is characterised by regular infections of the skin and lungs and bone abnormalities.
Evidence was given that Lauren had begun to have regular, heavy nosebleeds since 2014 and sometimes needed to call an ambulance as she encountered difficulties breathing.
She had spent two and a half weeks at Beaumont Hospital in late 2017 when she required a blood transfusion and surgery on her nose after suffering a heavy nosebleed.
Professor Rory McConn Walsh, an ear, nose and throat consultant at Beaumont Hospital, said Lauren suffered no complication or bleeding after the operation.
He said he had spent “many sleepless nights” wondering about Lauren’s death but said the cause of her nosebleeds was unclear as there were no abnormalities in her nasal blood vessels.
The inquest at Dublin Coroner’s Court heard Lauren collapsed shortly after arriving at the Empire Bar.
Lauren had gone to the pub with her best friend, Catherine Cullen, who was due to leave for Australia a few days later.
Ms Cullen told the inquest that Lauren was struggling to breathe after running into the pub’s bathroom after suffering a heavy nosebleed.
Fighting back tears, Ms Cullen remarked: “I did not know how serious it was”.
She said Lauren collapsed a number of times in a cubicle before an ambulance crew arrived to try and resuscitate her.
Lauren’s mother, Edith Rodgers, told the hearing how her daughter was in good form as she dropped her off at the pub in Swords that night.
Ms Rodgers said she had been called by Lauren’s friend within an hour to say she had a nosebleed and needed an ambulance.
She described the shock of arriving at the Empire Bar and walking into an upstairs bathroom to find her daughter dead.
“My life will never be the same again,” said Ms Rodgers.
Paramedic, Willie Howard, said an ambulance crew had worked for an hour on Lauren after she had been found unconscious after suffering cardiac arrest but she failed to respond to CPR treatment.
Lauren’s GP and family friend, Dr James Keely, who knew her since shortly after her birth, said he had never seen her so well as the six months before her death.
However, Dr Keely said she had been “plagued” with skin infections and her nosebleeds became more regular and severe in 2017.
He described her condition as a complex and challenging one which involved many related conditions including asthma, hay fever, eczema and severe lung infections.
Although Lauren’s family expressed concern that she was suffering a low blood cell count shortly before her death, Dr Mary Keoghan, an immunologist at Beaumont Hospital, said a blood test conducted on January 8, 2018 had recorded the same levels as at the time she was discharged from the hospital in December and “would not have sparked a need to recall her.” Dr Muna Sabah, who carried out the post mortem, told the inquest that Lauren’s blood count level would not have been a factor in her death.
Beaumont Hospital witnesses expressed surprise at a complaint by Lauren’s family that no nose specialist was available on a number of occasions when they had visited the hospital’s emergency department as they claimed one was always on-call.