A mother is suing Watford General Hospital claiming medical negligence led to her ten-year-old son suffering a heart attack and being left with severe brain damage.

Elijah Aldea, now aged 11, remains in a quadriplegic state after he was without a heartbeat for 45 minutes at Watford General following the cardiac arrest in April last year.

Elijah, a former pupil of Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School, was born with a cleft lip and palate and two holes in his heart and had been a long-standing patient at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London.

Days before his heart attack he had an operation at GOSH. Follow up tests showed he was anaemic and he was admitted to Watford General.

Mum Gabrielle Ali, 30, thought he would just be given iron tablets, but under the instruction of GOSH, doctors decided Elijah needed a blood transfusion and to be given anti-clotting drug heparin.

Gabrielle said she begged doctors not to give the heparin after she had talked to Elijah’s registrar of five years, but eventually agreed when staff at Great Ormond Street threatened to report her for child neglect.

She said she even considered sneaking her son out of the hospital, but there was no way of getting past the nurses’ station unseen.

As the drug was administered, Elijah’s heart stopped.

Gabrielle said: “I know my son, these doctors didn’t.

“I called the registrar who had looked after Elijah for five years. He said Elijah should not have heparin.

“I tried to explain from a medical point of view, and a mother’s point of view, why I did not think this was a good idea.

“No matter what I said, they were going to give him the heparin. They just said they needed to protect his heart valve – but as his mother, more than anyone I wanted to protect him.

“Elijah was crying his eyes out. He said ‘what are they trying to do mum, are they trying to kill me?’

“He knew what was coming, he told me ‘thank you mummy for always fighting for me’ – since that I haven’t heard his voice for a year.”

Gabrielle said serious incident investigations at both hospitals revealed Elijah had been operated on while infected and that Watford General had not received the results of Elijah’s blood tests before administering the heparin.

She has enlisted the services of solicitors Irwin Mitchell and is suing both NHS trusts for medical negligence.

The former Nascot Wood resident said: “I was looking at my son’s lifeless body for 45 minutes while they tried to resuscitate him.

“Just before he had been fine and normal, playing on his Xbox.

“We had fought for ten years to keep Elijah alive, he’d come through 14 operations, all for a little mistake to do this to him.

“And they did it without any results.

“He was on life-support in Great Ormond Street from April last year to October, now he’s off the machine but he can’t move or speak.

“I just want justice.

“It’s all been a battle, even to stop them turning off the life-support before Elijah was ready.

“I don’t understand it. If someone is alive and breathing surely the clinicians would try everything they could to help my son.”

Dr Mike van der Watt, medical director at Watford General, said: “We recognise there are lessons to be learned in relation to the care provided to Elijah, including in relation to the advice we received from the specialist hospital in charge of his case. 

“As a result, we have made a number of changes which will help prevent a similar event happening again.

“We recognise Ms Ali has ongoing concerns and we are in contact with her to help address them.”

Andrew Willard, spokesman for Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We appreciate this has been an immensely difficult time for Elijah’s family.

“We launched an investigation to thoroughly examine all elements of Elijah’s care at Great Ormond Street related to his re-admittance in April last year.

“We have shared the findings with Elijah’s family and although we were unable to identify the cause of the deterioration in Elijah’s condition, areas where processes and practice could be improved were identified.

“We have implemented a number of changes to address these areas but it is not possible to determine whether these would have changed the course of events for Elijah.”