Courageous children: Do we sometimes fail them?

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: (Published 07 February 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:i
  1. Olive M McKendrick, retired paediatrician
  1. Liverpool

    Christine died aged 13 from cystic fibrosis. She first came under my care when she was 10 and as well as suffering from advanced lung disease, she had hepatic cirrhosis. Nevertheless, she was coping with ordinary school and a year later won a scholarship to the local convent grammar school. There, with great courage and despite failing health, she managed to keep up with her peer group; something she was determined to do at all costs.

    During the last year of her life, Christine's chest deteriorated rapidly and her final month was spent in hospital fighting an uncontrollable infection.

    On what turned out to be Christine's last clinic attendance, she asked me if she could see me alone, without her mother. The request surprised me a bit but the reason surprised me even more. She wanted to know …

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