THE Icklesham mother of a young woman who died eight years after falling into a heroin-induced coma has spoken of her fighting spirit.
Amy Pickard was 17, and seven months pregnant, when she was found unconscious in a Hastings town centre toilet cubicle in June 2001.
Her baby Summer Louise, was delivered by emergency Caesarean, but died several days later.
Amy suffered irreversible brain damage, and after waking from a coma, remained in a persistent vegetative state until her death in October 2009, aged 25.
At an inquest last week, the pathologist stated that the exact cause of death was unknown.
Her mother, Thelma Pickard, 57, said: “I remember Amy, my daughter, as a lively chatterbox who adored dancing and who had lots of lovely friends, and we were very close.
“After the coma, her life would never be the same again but Amy had an incredible spirit, and she fought for almost eight years.”
Dr Ian Hawley, consultant histopathologist at the Conquest Hospital, said the cause of Amy’s death could not be ascertained.
She had not had a heart attack, there had been no infection, and it was unlikely that the anti-epileptic drugs she had been taking contributed to her death.
Amy was transferred to Mary House, a private care home, on September 30, 2009, and in the days that followed, Thelma told the inquest that the proper checks had not been carried out, including oxygen levels.
Felicity Evans, a registered nurse at Mary House, who was on duty on the day of Amy’s death, said that Amy was checked every 30 minutes throughout the night.
She responded to criticism by saying: “The nurses are not criminals, we did our best.
“Amy was one of our family in Mary House and we are human beings who cared for her.”
Coroner Alan Craze said her death was the result of a cardiac arrhythmia due to profound brain damage, due to a heroin overdose but said he did not believe Amy was an addict.
He recorded a verdict of death by non-dependent use of drugs.
Thelma said outside the court that she still missed her daughter. “I loved Amy then and I love her more and more each day, and I miss her. I miss her so much,” she said.
When asked about Amy’s drug history, her mum Thelma said: “I know absolutely nothing.
“I think I would have noticed something as her mother.
“When they took her to the Conquest, the first thing the nurses said was, she was definitely not a heroin addict.”
Since her daughter’s overdose, Thelma has been convinced of the need to warn young people about the dangers of drugs saying she wanted to prevent other parents from having to go through what she has.