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Toddler Dies After Being Misdiagnosed With Constipation

Three-year-old Aoife Flanagan-Gibbs died after doctors dismissed her symptoms as a common case of constipation. Her mother, Eilish Flanagan, was certain that something was wrong with her child, but doctors didn’t agree. After finally getting the right diagnosis, her daughter suddenly died in her arms.

For weeks, Aoife has been suffering from stomach pains, and sometimes the pain would be in other parts of her body as well. Back in June, Flanagan took her to the doctor to find out what was wrong. They told her that she's probably just constipated, and it will go away once she goes to the toilet. Flanagan didn't buy it, but she took her daughter home and trusted their diagnosis.

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Over the course of the next three weeks, Aoife continued to be in pain. Her stomach wasn’t the only issue at this point; she had different infections and pain in other parts of her body. Flanagan also discovered a visible tumour on her buttocks. She took her daughter to the doctor 11 times—convinced that something was terribly wrong with her. Every time, however, they would dismiss her symptoms as common constipation; they even insinuated that it was due to an improper diet Aoife is probably eating at home.

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Eventually, they were able to get a proper diagnosis. Aoife received an X-ray, and the doctors found a huge tumour in her liver that was blocking her bowels. By then, the little girl was in pretty bad shape. When she was transferred to another hospital, doctors confirmed that she had germ cell cancer: a rare strain of cancer that affects only 3% of kids in the UK. Usually, the survival rate for children with germ cell cancers is (allegedly) 93%, but Aoife’s case wasn’t caught early enough because of the initial misdiagnosis.

On July 7th, Aoife died in her mother’s arms. Flanagan was not expecting it, but her daughter suddenly went into cardiac arrest. In loving memory of her daughter, Flanagan started a charity called Aoife’s Bubbles. It aims to raise awareness and educate health care professionals about germ cell cancer. They don’t want another misdiagnosis to lead to the loss of someone’s child.

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