‘Fun and bubbly’ Polegate woman died of an infection, an inquest heard

A ‘fun and bubbly’ woman from Polegate died due to an infection of a heart valve, an inquest heard.

Friday, 26th November 2021, 12:22 pm

A ‘fun and bubbly’ woman from Polegate died due to an infection of a heart valve, an inquest heard.

Toni Susan Walker, 50, died in Eastbourne District General Hospital on June 30, 2021.

Miss Walker, who lived in Park Croft, had originally been admitted to hospital on June 25 as she felt unwell.

Eastbourne Town Hall SUS-210216-141547001

Dr Andrew Marshall, who is a consultant cardiologist at the hospital, said Miss Walker had shown signs of sepsis including an abnormal appearance on one of her heart valves.

Dr Marshall said, “There was a high level of suspicion that this is what was going on.”

The consultant cardiologist said there was also an abnormality with Miss Walker’s lungs and believed this was because the infection had spread.

Dr Marshall added, “She was very unwell at the time and the diagnosis was made immediately.

“She had all the investigations that we would want to do in someone who was unwell with an infection.”

According to the doctor, a blood test showed ‘quite a severe infection’.

At the inquest in Eastbourne Town Hall on Thursday, November 25, East Sussex coroner Alan Craze voiced his support for the hospital’s actions.

He said, “Immediately you found what exactly was wrong and had her in the right place to have any chance of saving her.”

Dr Marshall said despite a period of being relatively stable, a medical emergency call was issued due to a drop in oxygen levels.

The consultant cardiologist said Miss Walker’s cause of death was the infection of a heart valve following intravenous drug use.

In a statement from Miss Walker’s family, they said, “Toni will be greatly missed.

“She was very hard-working and had plans on becoming a nurse.”

A worker from STAR, a drug and alcohol service which Miss Walker had been a part of since 2014, said, “She had appeared to have made positive changes.”

Mr Craze added, “In a case like this there are two possibilities with somebody who has been taking drugs regularly.

“It could be dependent on drugs, or someone who dabbles with them is non-dependent.

“She had been on them as a dependent person, I suspect, for longer than what anybody knew.

“I will simply record the verdict as a dependence on drugs.”