George Spencer, who has a twin brother, Arthur, died in the evening of Friday, March 19th, but his devastated parents - Terry Spencer and Danielle Gorin - say the tragedy could have been prevented if action to treat George had been taken hours before.
"We are so very angry and to say totally devastated is an understatement at the loss of our George," they said.
George suffered with croup - a common respiratory virus in children. A fit and healthy young boy otherwise, that Friday started as usual for the family. George, Arthur and their older brother, Jamie (10), attended St James Primary School, Clitheroe. However, it wasn't until Danielle went to collect the boys from the after-school club at 4-30pm, that she immediately noticed George was having breathing difficulties.
Recalling the fateful afternoon, she said: "He was wheezing and struggling to breathe. I was shocked to see him like this and so I put my hand on his chest and his heart was beating very fast. I immediately rang Terry to inform him of George's condition and I then left the school to strap all three children into the car. While I am doing this, I was on the phone to Clitheroe Health Centre to see if a doctor can see him as soon as possible. An emergency appointment was arranged for 5pm and Terry was able to take him there while I looked after the other two boys at home."
Danielle said George and Arthur had suffered similar croup attacks in the past where they were prescribed a dose of steroids.
Terry said he had to carry George into the doctors as he didn't want to exacerbate his breathing. "He wasn't his usual, active self," he recalled. "He was very quiet and just struggling to breathe. We were quickly seen by a doctor and sent home with an inhaler, no steroids. We arrived home and George - who was continuing to breathe deeply - managed to eat some tea and then changed into his pyjamas to watch telly."
He added: "We are in the middle of a pandemic and coronavirus is widely known for respiratory issues. Surely, this should have been cause for concern too? Even Danielle did a rapid flow test on George which was negative."
George's wheezing continued so Danielle rang NHS 111 for help and advice. They were told a doctor would ring back in the evening, but it was too late. Moments later George's mouth and lips turned blue and he stopped breathing. His distraught parents watched in horror as their neighbour, a trained First Responder and later paramedics attempted to revive George.
Through tears, Terry said: "It was terrible and everything happened so quick. George's lips and mouth turned blue at 7-15pm and he stopped breathing as his airways were now swollen and blocked. We rang for an ambulance and the paramedics asked us to perform CPR. I was asked to rush to get a defibrillator from outside Edisford Primary School, all while our neighbour - who is a trained First Responder - came to our aid and administered CPR. The paramedics quickly arrived and worked on George for over an hour before taking him to hospital where a team of A&E doctors were waiting, but sadly, despite their best efforts, George died a short time later. We just couldn't believe what happened. And immediately the house had been made a scene of crime with a police cordon in place."
The family say they have been through "hell" over the past few weeks after their "cheeky, happy" boy was devastatingly taken from them and they vow to continue seeking answers about what happened and why, declaring: "This is not over for us."
Danielle and Terry went on to thank the paramedics and medical staff at RBH.
"The paramedics were great and very thorough. They did everything they could to save George. We cannot thank them enough."
Investigations are ongoing and George's case has been reported to the coroner's office.
Responding to the concerns raised, Dr Mark Dziobon, Medical Director at NHS East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We would like to offer our sincere condolences to George’s family and friends on their loss. As a CCG we are aware of this child’s death, but it would not be appropriate for us to comment further as we understand that this is under consideration by the Coroner’s Office.”
Meanwhile, Fiona Pattison, headteacher of Clitheroe St James' C of E Primary School, paid tribute to a "much-loved" pupil: "Our thoughts, prayers and sympathies are with Georges' family, friends and everyone who knew him at this very sad and difficult time.
"George was a much-loved member of our school community and his classmates, staff and everyone at the school are deeply upset.
"The wellbeing of everyone in our school community is our absolute priority and we have robust safety procedures to ensure our staff and pupils are safe and well."
Remembering his "beautiful boy who always had a smile on his face", Terry, who works as a joiner, said: "George loved playing outdoors, especially spending time at Edisford Picnic Site near the river. The twins were very popular - everyone was friends with George and Arthur. Arthur has become very quiet since his death and misses him a lot. They did everything together. It's heartbreaking to see him like this. We miss George so much."
Earlier this month, a convoy of tractors passed through the streets of the town for the final farewell of George. Wellwishers lined the streets of the town to pay their respects and say a tearful goodbye as the procession of tractors lined up.
A private family funeral service was held at St James' Church, Clitheroe, followed by burial at Clitheroe Cemetery.
The family are keeping George's memory alive by raising money for a defibrillator to be installed outside St James' Primary School in Greenacre Street. So far the appeal has raised £8,235. Anyone wishing to support this worthwhile cause is asked to CLICK HERE