Teenager died of tuberculosis after string of doctors fail to spot condition and one even branded her 'lovesick'
21:19 GMT, 14 May 2012
Tragic: 15-year-old Anita, pictured before she died from Tuberculosis last year
A 15-year-old schoolgirl died of tuberculosis after a series of doctor errors missed the chance to detect and cure her disease, with her GP claiming she was 'lovesick', an inquest heard today.
Alina Sarag died in January last year after a GP allegedly advised her that her physical deterioration was due to mental health problems.
The teenager’s father, Sultan Sarag, told Birmingham Coroner’s Court his daughter was told she needed to see a psychiatrist or even a spiritual healer.
Alina's parents called her GP more than 50 times about their daughter’s ailing condition over a four-and-a-half month period before her death.
She was also seen by more than five doctors at four different hospitals but medics failed to detect the curable disease.
Her distraught father, Sultan Sarag, 43, broke down as he told the court: 'The doctor said to her ‘Did you meet someone on holiday Are you missing him
'She found it very distressing he was suggesting she was lovesick for a boy.
'He said all the problems were in her head and she should see a psychiatrist or spiritual healer.'
Mr Sarag also claimed Dr Sharad Shripadrao Pandit accused him of 'mollycoddling' Alina, and refused to test his daughter for TB.
He told the inquest: 'He said: “We don’t need these tests, we are not going to get them done either.”'
Alina was told by her GP that she may have bulimia and would need to see a psychiatrist, the inquest heard.
Father: Sultan Sarag outside Birmingham Coroner's Court today. Mr Sarag told the court her daughter's GP had told her she was 'lovesick'
Loss: Alina pictured at 14. A string of doctors at four different hospitals failed to spot her tuberculosis
Mr Sarag – who is also being treated for TB – told the inquest his daughter vomited up to 10 times a day and had to be carried to bed 'like an old woman with weak legs'.
'I would spend hours rubbing her back, arms, head and neck to try and help ease her pain,' he said.
He added that he made more than 50 phone calls to the GP’s surgery in Birmingham but Dr Pandit failed to return his calls.
Mr Sarag said: 'There was mass neglect. The medical profession, as soon as they mess up they hide.'
Memories: Sulton Sarag and Farhat Mahmooda, Alina's parents, hold a scrapbook with pictures of Alina, pictured right at 7 years old
Alina first contracted TB in 2009 after a girl at her school was diagnosed with the illness.
Young: Alina aged one at her home in Birmingham
She was prescribed a course of antibiotics at Birmingham Chest Clinic but medical staff never followed up her treatment.
Alina was struck down again in July 2010 after returning from a trip to Pakistan with her family.
The inquest heard a simple phlegm test would have shown Alina was suffering from TB but this was never carried out.
Instead, doctors shrugged off her family’s concerns and told them Alina was suffering from a chest infection despite being classed as a 'high risk' patient.
Alina’s weight plummeted and at one point she was so ill she could only tolerate baby food.
After doctors at Heartland and City hospitals did not detect TB, Alina was admitted to Sandwell Hospital where she stayed for five days.
TB was picked up but no phlegm test was carried out and a chest X-ray was thought to have found a chest infection.
She later saw a clinical psychologist at Birmingham Children’s Hospital but was in too much pain to complete the assessment.
On January 6, 2011 Alina was rushed to hospital after suffering breathing difficulties and she died of a cardiac arrest.
The hearing continues.