Brain Virus Kills Woman After Docs Misdiagnosed Condition as Depression

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A British woman died from a rare brain virus after being told by doctors that she was simply depressed because she had not had a baby, a coroner's investigation heard.

Jane Harrop, 30, went to the hospital in February last year with severe head and neck pains after collapsing suddenly but was told she had a migraine, the Birmingham Mail reported Tuesday.

In the months leading up to her collapse, Harrop complained of violent headaches nine times to doctors, who gave her antidepressants and did not refer her for tests, Birmingham Coroner's Court heard.

"The [doctor] thought she was depressed because she was trying for a baby and hadn't had one. Jane was a happy-go-lucky character -- I didn't think she was depressed. She said her brain felt like it was being crushed," according to Harrop's mother, Linda Cook.

Harrop, who cared for multiple sclerosis patients in their homes, died eight days after she was taken to Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield, where a brain scan was delayed for five days because she felt claustrophobic and staff had no way of sedating her.

She was not transferred to a specialized brain unit at a nearby hospital because of a lack of beds, the court was told.

Pathologist Dr. Martin Carey said Harrop's death was caused by inflammation of the brain and spine by a virus that took hold over a period of at least two months. Headaches are the first sign of sub-acute meningo-myeloencephalitis, Carey added.

Another patient on the ward, Jean Paul, said nurses ignored Harrop's screams of pain during her final night alive.

"She was screaming in pain and shouting for help, but no one came to her," said Paul. "I was disgusted at the way the poor woman was left."

The inquest continues.

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