Family’s tribute to a generous daughter

A FAMILY have paid tribute to their teenage daughter this week after her life was suddenly cut short. Catherine Tapp, 16, of Wallington Road, Baldock, died at the Lister Hospital in May 2005 after fighting meningitis. She was admitted to hospital with ach

A FAMILY have paid tribute to their teenage daughter this week after her life was suddenly cut short.

Catherine Tapp, 16, of Wallington Road, Baldock, died at the Lister Hospital in May 2005 after fighting meningitis.

She was admitted to hospital with aches and pains, a fever and a rash. However, she was discharged the same day because staff believed she had flu-like symptoms. But when her condition worsened she was readmitted and died just a few hours later.

Following an inquest last week, Catherine's parents, Graham and Susan Tapp, told The Comet how her death was unexpected because she had previously been fit and healthy.

They explained how Catherine, who was always the life and soul of the party, remained high spirited even when she was taken ill.

Mr Tapp said: "When we got to the hospital car park Catherine kept reminding me to get a parking ticket and told me off.

Most Read

He added: "She was an extrovert. She enjoyed life and was kind to the point where if she had a tuppence in her pocket she would give it to someone else. She would buy things for people when they quite clearly didn't need it."

Mrs Tapp added: "She was a popular girl and had around 60 of her friends visit her in intensive care.

"Some of them even walked from Baldock to the Lister in order to see her."

Catherine, who was studying business at North Hertfordshire College, was a registered organ donor and Mr and Mrs Tapp explained how her wish to donate organs gave them a "warm feeling".

Mr Tapp said: "We used to discuss organ donation as a family. She knew it was my wish if anything should happen to me and she said it was hers as well from the age of about 13.

"When the time came and this horrible thing happened I was able to calmly and easily make the decision because I knew I was doing what she wanted me to do."

Although a match could not be found for Catherine's heart, two girls aged 12 and 13 have benefited from her kidneys and a young mother has had her liver.

Her heart valves have also been saved and her corneas will be used to save someone's sight.

Mr and Mrs Tapp are urging families to talk about organ donation.

Mr Tapp said: "The discussion needs to be had whether you're for or against it."

Although the coroner recorded a verdict of natural causes at Catherine's inquest, her family disagree because they still believe there are unanswered questions.

The Tapps carried out over 7,000 hours of research for the case and the coroner has left their report and findings on open file at the coroner's office in Hatfield for anyone to look at with the coroner's permission.

Mr Tapp said: "The coroner's office was as helpful as they could be, within the law. The staff there are absolutely fantastic. They do the job with compassion and we would like to thank them.

"The Intensive Care Unit (ITU) at the Lister was also exemplary. Dr Venkataprasad acted in an honourable way and we would like to thank him for the way he dealt with Catherine and us."

In the future the Tapps are thinking about setting up a website aimed at parents who may suspect their child has meningitis.

Mrs Tapp said: "If you think your child is ill, insist on a blood test. Get a second opinion as well and wait at the hospital until a doctor sees you because two hours could save their life."

For more information visit www.meningitis.org or call the free 24-hour helpline call 080 8800 3344.

What to look for if you suspect your child has meningitis...

* Fever and vomiting

* Severe headache

* Rash

* Stiff neck

* Aversion to bright lights

* Sleepy

* Confused

* Seizures

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter