16 year old cancer victim dies after overdoses of radiation

A 16 year old cancer victim who was inadvertently given more than 17 overdoses of radiation during treatment for a brain tumour, has died at home nine months later.

Lisa Norris had been told by doctors that a course of radiotherapy had destroyed a tumour in her brain and she was clear of cancer.

Lisa and her family from Girvan, in Ayrshire, had celebrated the success of the radiation treatment when within days consultants from the Beatson Oncology Centre in Glasgow visited her at home to tell her she had been exposed to massive overdoses of radiation during the cancer treatment.

Her family have blamed her death on the hospital blunder and say they believe the return of the cancer was a direct result of the mistake and not a natural recurrence of the disease.

Lisa's father, Ken Norris, has described his daughter as positive and strong and an inspiration; they did not expect her to die.

She had apparently been exposed to a level of radiation 65 per cent higher than prescribed.

Lisa had asked the doctors if she was going to die, but they apparently ignored her and when she asked if she would survive for five years, they could not give her an answer.

NHS Greater Glasgow did at the time admit to the overdoses, which were administered by three different physicians and went unnoticed by two hospital administrators, as the result of human error.

The health trust is now expected to face legal action from Lisa’s parents, along with legal action from dozens of other patients, as it has since been disclosed that there were 46 incidents over the past 20 years during radiotherapy treatment, including 14 cases in which patients were given overdoses.

Hospital staff are said to be "extremely upset" over Lisa’s death and condolences have been extended to the family on behalf of the organisation.

Following the overdoses Lisa suffered sores and blisters on her ears, head and neck and had difficulty sleeping because of a constant burning sensation inside her.

Even as the symptoms worsened and she needed to take cold showers to cool down she retained her good humour.

Lisa became ill again last month and returned to hospital for emergency surgery for fluid on the brain.

Doctors then told her that the tumour had returned and chemotherapy was suggested but the cancer had already spread to her spine and other parts of her body.

Mr Norris says a doctor at the hospital had said the overdose could have been to blame for the problems she developed.

Her family say that Lisa's death has left so many unanswered questions, but they have every intention of continuing the fight for truth and for justice in her name.

They plan to set up a charity in her name and have thanked those involved in caring for Lisa.

An independent investigation into the case has been launched by the Scottish Executive.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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