Schoolgirl, 12, ‘who had a smile that lit up every room she entered’ died from Covid-19 just six days after developing a ‘minor cough’, inquest hears

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  • FAbiana Zoppeli, 12, had a ‘slight cough’ on June 1 before falling ill
  • He was taken to the Royal Oldham Hospital and tested positive for coronavirus
  • But on June 7 the student went into cardiac arrest and died tragically

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A 12-year-old girl, who was ‘a friend to everyone’ and ‘had a smile that lighted up her every room’, just days after developing complications related to COVID-19, is heard in an inquiry Is.

Fabiana Zopelli, who had a rare genetic disorder floating-harbor syndrome, contracted a ‘slight cough’ on June 1 before falling seriously ill with the virus last year.

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The student’s mother, Etohan Ehigi, called doctors on June 3, when Fabiana developed a rash and began vomiting and was taken to the A&E department at Royal Oldham Hospital.

After Fabiana, who was described as a ‘generally healthy’ child, tested positive for Covid on 5 June, it was decided to transfer the schoolgirl to Manchester Children’s Hospital.

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However as his temperature reading and oxygen became Increasingly ‘hard to maintain’ medics agreed that the schoolgirl should be referred to Elder Hay Children’s Hospital in Liverpool.

When she was leaving the hospital on a mobile ventilator on June 7, Fabiana suffered a cardiac arrest and died a painful death.

A two-day investigation into Fabiana’s death began on October 11 at Rochdale Coroner’s Court.

12-year-old Fabiana Zopelli, who had a rare genetic disorder floating-harbor syndrome, died last year after contracting COVID-19

It heard how Fabiana underwent a PCR test and was put on an oxygen machine when she reached the hospital on June 3.

He was put on ventilator as his condition deteriorated.

However, it became clear that the equipment was not working and after her positive result it was decided to transfer Fabiana to Manchester Children’s Hospital.

On 6 June he was re-ventilated upon arrival in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

Doctors said his temperature was reading 40C and that his oxygen had become ‘hard to maintain’.

A nurse also noted how she looked ‘pale and tired’ from the glass window to her bed.

By 6 a.m., Fabiana was breathing at an increased rate—up to 90 times per minute.

Medics agreed that the schoolgirl should be sent to Elder Hay Children’s Hospital in Liverpool to be placed on an Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) machine.

Treatment will help with cardiovascular and respiratory support.

But when she was leaving the hospital on a mobile ventilator on June 7, she suffered a cardiac arrest and died.

A doctor described her case as the worst-case scenario in a child during the entire pandemic.

Speaking at the interrogation, his mother Mrs Ehigi said that Fabiana enjoyed music, food and helping others.

She told the court that her daughter would “always offer to help” those in need, especially young children.

Fabiana's mother said her daughter enjoyed the music, food and helping others and was 'always offering help' to those in need.

Fabiana’s mother said her daughter enjoyed the music, food and helping others and was ‘always offering help’ to those in need.

Fabiana Zopelli

Fabiana Zopelli

Teachers in Corpus Christi described Fabiana as ‘amazing and popular’ and said she had made a lot of progress during her four years at the school.

Fabiana moved to the UK with her family from Italy in March 2015.

The court heard how she had an extremely rare condition called floating-harbor syndrome, meaning she was short in stature, grew slow and had delayed speech development.

When her school closed at the start of the pandemic, Fabiana stayed inside, regularly watching TikTok videos on her phone.

Mrs Ehigi told the court that no one in her family had become ill with the coronavirus or had previously shown any symptoms.

The investigation revealed how there was a delay in receiving Fabiana’s PCR test results at the Royal Oldham Hospital.

The positive result was not sent till 9.30 pm on June 5, two days after his swab was taken.

Fabiana’s mother was not made aware of the result until 12 hours later.

However, the court heard how the delay in obtaining the result did not affect Fabiana’s treatment.

Speaking during the interrogation, Mrs Ehigi asked why her daughter could not be transferred to Elder Hay Children’s Hospital as soon as possible.

Doctors said this was due to Fabiana being in a very unstable condition at the time.

Giving evidence, Prakash Kamath, Pediatric Consultant at Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said: ‘This was a very new disease and at the time there was a belief that children do not have complications from Covid.

‘At that time, not only for adults, but also for children, Covid was poorly understood.

‘We’ve never seen kids suffering from complications of Kovid like Fabiana did.

‘We believed she would turn a corner and get better.

‘I have not seen any child transferred to intensive care in the last 18 months. This is a very unusual case in a child.

‘We can only assume that he contracted COVID somewhere in the community.’

Summarizing the investigation, Assistant Coroner Nicholas Flanagan ruled that Fabiana died of natural causes.

This was due to Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) caused by the coronavirus.

Mr Flanagan ruled that floating-harbour syndrome may have contributed to his death but it did not.

He said: ‘Fabiana was very, very unwell and extraordinarily unlucky to have had lung difficulty at the same time as Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome.

‘She was a generally healthy baby before coughing, despite having no known COVID exposure.

‘Every effort was made to ensure Fabiana’s survival.’

Teachers and staff at New Bridge School in Hollinwood and Corpus Christi RC Primary School, where Fabiana attended, both previously issued tributes after her passing.

Teachers in Corpus Christi described Fabiana as ‘amazing and popular’ and said she had made a lot of progress during her four years at the school.

He said that a special highlight of his time at school was the trip to Paris.

A statement on the Corpus Christi website said: ‘He is a…

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