The grieving parents of a five-year-old boy claim they heard hospital staff laughing as their son's life support machine was turned off.
Haroon Rashid, 41, says he was forced to say goodbye to his son, Muhammad Ayaan Haroon, as medical staff in the same room were laughing in the background. He says only a thin curtain stood between the laughing doctors and nurses who had treated Ayaan, as his family watched him take his final breath.
Haroon has submitted a formal complaint about the conduct of the staff after a relative had to go and ask them to be respectful whilst they spent their last moments with Ayaan. Bosses at Sheffield Children's Hospital have pledged a “thorough” investigation into the family's claims.
Little Ayaan had been admitted to the hospital on 5 March with trouble breathing. He had a history of respiratory illnesses and a rare genetic condition called Hace 1 which caused developmental delays. Ayaan tragically died on 13 March, with initial cause of death listed as adenovirus which can cause flu-like symptoms and pneumonia.
Haroon, a taxi driver and father of four from Sheffield, said: "We don't know how we will live without him now our son is gone. On the other hand, we worry about what happened to him. We don't want this to happen to any other child or any other family.
"When the machine was switched off at 2.30am we had a lot of family members there. There was laughter coming from staff members. We were so upset. There was no one else on the ward apart from staff and one other small child behind the curtain from us.
"Surely the staff knew Ayaan's machine was about to be turned off. They continued laughing after my relative asked them to stop. A child's life was coming to an end.
"It was highly insensitive. We are living with our son's loss but we are very, very angry about the staff behaved."
Haroon and his wife Fakhra Dibi, 45, are now calling for an investigation into the treatment of their son. Their 10-page complaint details concerns over the medical care Ayaan received as well as the "inappropriate" behaviour from staff whilst his family were saying goodbye.
Haroon also described a similar incident when his wife was given the news that Ayaan's condition was deteriorating a few days before his death. According to her, she was given the news that Ayaan's chances of survival were slim due to an adenovirus infection in a ward full of laughing staff, children and other parents.
Haroon, whose daughters are 20, 16 and 12, said: "My wife rang me crying after the doctor broke the news. They told her out there in the ward, with nurses who were laughing in the background. They should have taken her to a private room, not told her like that in front of everyone. It's hugely insensitive."
A decision as to whether an inquest into his death will be held has not yet been made by a coroner. On 23 March, 10 days after Ayaan's death, Haroon alleges that he was phoned by the hospital about a follow-up appointment for Ayaan, despite his records showing his death.
However he was keen to praise previous treatment that his family had received from Sheffield Children’s Hospital. Haroon said his son’s treatment as an outpatient at the hospital previously had been faultless, and that his consultants had been there for them throughout.
Ayaan was described by his father as "the best in the whole of Sheffield". His father said the whole of the school’s staff came to his son’s funeral at the Madina Mosque. He described Ayaan as a youngster who always had a smile on his face, who loved to be picked up and enjoyed children’s shows like Cocomelon and Hey Duggee.
Dr Jeff Perring, medical director at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I wish to express my deepest condolences to Ayaan’s family for their loss. The death of any child is tragic and I know that my colleagues who treated, and came to know, Ayaan during his short life will share in expressing these condolences.
“The loss of a child while they are a patient at Sheffield Children’s is something we take very seriously. Our colleagues pride themselves on providing the best clinical and pastoral care for all children and young people who need it. We have received Mr Rashid’s complaint, which is very detailed and complex.
"There will be a thorough internal investigation of the care and treatment Ayaan received at the hospital between 5 and 13 March which will cover the concerns raised in Mr Rashid’s complaint.”