A YOUNG sportswoman died at a hockey game after taking too many tablets in a desperate attempt to stave off chronic pain and be well enough to play, an inquest heard today.

Talented sailor and keen hockey player Holly Monk was just 18 when she collapsed at Middlesbrough’s Southlands Centre on November 20 last year.

Despite drifting in and out of consciousness, Miss Monk was able to tell paramedics who rushed to her aid that she had taken an overdose of prescription medication but had not intended to take her own life.

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Sadly, the popular teenager died later that evening at the James Cook University Hospital, where medics fought tirelessly for hours to combat the effects of a toxic overdose of hydroxychloroquine, a drug commonly prescribed to regulate the immune system.

An inquest into Miss Monk’s death heard this morning that the East Durham College student - who suffered long-term health problems and chronic pain - had been prescribed the medication following investigations that eventually led to her being diagnosed with Raynaud’s disease.

Her heart-broken parents told the inquest that they believed their daughter died in an attempt to manage her pain and feel well enough to take to the hockey pitch and play the game that she loved.

Miss Monk’s father, Andrew Monk, said his daughter had “suffered in silence” for a considerable amount of time as she attempted to maintain a full and active lifestyle, while also coping with chronic pain and regular swelling in her hands and face.

In a statement read at Teesside Coroner's Court, Mr Monk described her as an outdoorsy young woman who had a close-knit circle of friends and a promising relationship with a “kind and gentle” boyfriend.

Hoping that the inquest would provide answers, he said that the uncertainties relating to Miss Monk's death were hanging over his family and prolonging their grieving.

At the time of her death, she was studying in the hope of going to university and was a talented sportswoman who played and coached for Norton Hockey Club and was a keen sailor and member of the Ullswater Yacht Club.

On the night she died, a friend who accompanied her in the ambulance to hospital told paramedics that Miss Monk had been “shaky” on arrival at the leisure centre before collapsing in a spectator area of the gymnasium where a hockey game was on-going.

Members of the public and staff attempted to help Miss Monk, with one woman performing CPR prior to the arrival of an ambulance.

As medics at James Cook University Hospital worked to resuscitate the Egglescliffe woman, they frantically sought advice in a desperate effort to combat the devastating effects of the hydroxychloroquine, contacting the National Poisons Information Service and other toxicology experts from around the country.

Sadly, they were unable to prevent the drug from causing irreparable damage and, following discussions with her parents, eventually stopped their resuscitation attempts.

Teacher Mr Monk said his own work in A&E meant that, shortly after arriving at his daughter's bedside, he had realised she was unlikely to survive the overdose.

Senior coroner Clare Bailey concluded that Miss Monk had died as a result of misadventure.

She said: “We have heard the information she gave to the paramedic is that she had not intended to take her own life and the police are satisfied that she took the medication to try and treat pain so that she could play the hockey that she loved playing.

“There was no reason for her to wait to take her life, she was in a very good place, taking a course, enjoying sport and in a loving relationship.

“In the circumstances, I accept that Holly died not intending to take her life and my conclusion, based on the balance of probabilities, is that she died as a result of misadventure.

“She intended to take the medication but not the tragic consequences.”

Ms Bailey offered her condolences to the Monk family and thanked them for helping the inquest, which also saw Mr Monk suggest the possibility of undiagnosed Lyme Disease underlying his daughter’s chronic pain.

He said she had undoubtedly come into contact with ticks potentially carrying the disease as a result of spending so much time outdoors, but accepted that it was now likely to be impossible to tell if the condition had been responsible for his daughter's chronic pain. 

The inquest heard that the teenager had not been tested for the condition during investigations into her health that were on-going at the time of her death.