Heart girl dies at PE lesson at Northamptonshire school

A 12-year-old Northamptonshire girl with a history of heart problems who collapsed at a PE lesson at school died from natural causes, a coroner decided.

Joanne Watson was running laps of the playground at Kettering Science Academy when she collapsed on 5 February.

A post-mortem examination found a coronary artery in the wrong place so blood flow would be restricted.

The hearing was told Joanne was born with two holes in her heart but one had healed.

The inquest at Kettering Magistrates' Court heard that the problem would have been particularly difficult to spot, even for experts looking for problems.

Banged her head

Teacher Dawn Furgurson described how Joanne had been her normal self at the start of the lesson, riding an exercise bike before going out to the playground to run laps.

Another pupil came in to tell her that Joanne, who had suffered from asthma previously, had fainted and hit her head.

"I found her on her back unconscious, yawning and gasping for air with a golf ball sized lump above her left eyebrow," the teacher said.

"Another girl said Jo had only run one lap of the playground but said her asthma was bad and collapsed, banging her head."

Paramedics tried to resuscitate Joanne, who was taken to Kettering General Hospital and later pronounced dead, the inquest heard.

Her mother Stacey Watson, from Regent Street, Kettering, said Joanne was monitored by medical experts.

"In the week preceding her death she had complained of feeling tight-chested and I thought she had developed asthma again," she said.

Northamptonshire coroner Anne Pember recorded a verdict of death by natural causes.

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