A little girl with a rare form of childhood cancer may have died from a combination of complications arising from treatment and an underlying heart condition, an inquest heard.

Eight-year-old Amelia Davies, from Darlington, suddenly went into cardiac arrest at the end of a gruelling course of treatment for a high-risk neuroblastoma at the Great North Children’s Hospital.

Newcastle Coroners’ Court heard her blood pressure dropped unexpectedly not long after a nasogastric tube was moved and she could not be saved despite the best efforts of a crash team of medics.

The Northern Echo: Amelia Davies Amelia Davies (Image: Contributor)The court was told Amelia was being given drugs to counteract the aggressive chemotherapy used to treat the deadly condition when she became unresponsive on January 25 in 2021.

Professor Deborah Tweddle, leading consultant for neuroblastoma in the North East, who was Amelia’s primary carer, told the inquest she had wondered whether lowering the nasogastric tube could have triggered the problem with her heart rate.

She said: “It is not one of the usual side effects you see from nasogastric tubes and most of the medical opinions I asked said they had never heard of such a thing and that it was very unlikely.

“So, I thought ‘okay, well if nasogastric tubes don’t lead to arrhythmias what else could account for the timing between the two?’

“The only other thing I thought, and I have to say this is speculation, as we try to piece together the very unfortunate events that happened, is that whether by lowering the nasogastric tube some of the medicines may have then gone into her stomach and the medicines, essential medicines for managing side effects of chemotherapy, can potentially cause arrhythmias in other circumstances.

“I wondered if potentially that might have helped to account for why it appeared that there was an issue with the nasogastric tube and 20 minutes later she had undergone deterioration.

“This is a very unusual set of events and it is not easy to fathom anything from what is listed when you do literature searches for this sort of thing as to what might have gone here.”

Amelia, who attended Polam Hall School in Darlington, became ill in August 2020 suffering from stomach pains and constipation.

A tumour was found on her left kidney by doctors at Darlington Memorial Hospital and she was transferred to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.

Further tests confirmed the neuroblastoma cells had spread to her bone marrow.

Amelia's 70-day chemotherapy treatment started on November 4 was completed by mid-January 2021.

The Northern Echo: Amelia in hospital undergoing treatment Amelia in hospital undergoing treatment (Image: Contributor)The inquest was told the plan was for further treatment to rescue the bone marrow from the effects of chemotherapy with a stem cell reinfusion.

Professor Tweddle said there was no evidence that her death was related to neuroblastoma, but said "she had to have treatment for her neuroblastoma if she was going to survive".

She said: “It is the combination of the drugs, the electrolytes, the potassium, and potentially the nasogastric tube, which is least likely but the time factor I appreciate is in there.

“Whatever went on here I think it was extremely rare and something that probably couldn’t have been predicted.”

Coroner Karen Dilks asked Professor Tweddle what she believed the most likely cause of Amelia’s death was.

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Professor Tweddle said: “The medications she was on to manage the side effects, such as the anti-sickness and antifungal medication, and the antibiotics she was on was to enable her to have a stem cell harvest.

“The contributory factor of those, if she already had a genetic problem for an arrhythmia, would have put her heart at significant stress, the combination of those would be going to make her heart work harder.

“I suspect she sadly did have an irregular heart rate and that led eventually to circulatory collapse then to her arrest.”

The inquest continues.