A SELFLESS and much-loved woman’s death - which has seen an outpouring of grief and support - due to a blood clot should ‘never have happened’, say her family who believe doctors failed her.
Vicki Austin’s singing could regularly be heard throughout the corridors at Barnsley College, where she worked with young people with learning disabilities.
The 52-year-old also volunteered for Mencap for two decades, and her family said she devoted her life to the care of others - even when her own health became critical.
Vicki died after what daughter Aimi referred to as a ‘catalogue of errors’ following an admittance to Barnsley Hospital’s emergency department in August, 2018.
A bowel issue turned into a hernia which was eventually treated by professionals at Northern General Hospital in Sheffield.
“A couple of weeks after, her stomach started getting larger and larger, over basically three years,” said Aimi, 32, from Worsbrough.
“She was fighting then to try to get them to repair whatever had happened with this huge lump on her stomach.”
Doctors at Northern General finally operated in July but surgical mesh left caused an infection.
They also, claim the family, failed to account for a family history of clotting disorders - and Vicki’s past two episodes of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) - and there were questions over her medication, namely blood thinners.
Vicki died of a suspected blood clot on August 11.
“It’s frustrating, when it should’ve been so monitored,” added Aimi.
But Vicki, described as ‘an absolute joy’, never let her condition get the better of her.
“She still did everything, she carried it around with her,” said daughter Lucy Blackburn, 28.
“As much as she was conscious of it, she still carried on. She still helped everybody else. She was such a big person in everybody’s life.”
The family has had too many messages of support to respond to, while Barnsley College closed part of the Learning for Living and Work department yesterday - the day of Vicki’s funeral - as a mark of respect.
Family have set up a Crowdfunder to pay any legal fees, which has raised around £1,500, but said any money not used will go towards Vicki’s college department and Mencap.
Aimi said: “I don’t want people to think my mum was ill. I wish she’d have done more for herself, because she just didn’t - she gave and gave.
“After the years and years of what she’s done for people’s lives, and how important she was, she just relied on professionals and she didn’t get the basic care.
“She died from something so preventable.”
Lucy added: “To lead a normal life, you’d expect you can put your trust in doctors, because that’s what they’re there to do.
“We’d still have our mum, and everyone would still have this woman in their life who’s such a big part, if they’d have done that.
“She said she couldn’t wait to be out in the Soul Lounge dancing, and not have this lump and feel self-conscious about it.”
A night walk, starting in Locke Park, is also scheduled to take place on September 26 in remembrance.
Colleague Lachelle Dawson, 40, said: “She was an absolute joy - she had a laugh that echoed through walls.
“She would sing and dance. She was people’s hug when they needed it, she was certainly my confidante and my support.”
Liz Leek, deputy principal of culture, place and communities at Barnsley College, said: “Vicki was a really important member of our Learning for Living and Work team.
“She encouraged all our students to reach their full potential and did so with cheerful good humour and a sense of fun. Students’ and staff’s lives were better for having Vicki around. She is much missed.”
Barnsley Hospital and Northern General Hospital both declined to comment ahead of an inquest date being set, while investigations take place.