A FATHER has paid tribute to his daughter who died after developing hepatitis and Covid-19 while waiting for a liver transplant.

Katie Horne died in April 2020 after she first visited the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath with jaundice, dark urine, tiredness and cramps.

The 21-year-old was transferred to King’s College Hospital in London for a liver transplant, but tested positive for Covid-19, which prevented her from receiving a transplant.

Coroner Andrew Harris said the combination of liver failure, the impact of the pandemic on hospitals and Katie contracting Covid-19 led to her death.

During an inquest at Inner London South Coroner’s Court on Wednesday, he said there was “no evidence” that either hospital had provided inappropriate care, but raised concerns about the delay in receiving results and involving a gastroenterologist in her care.

Katie, a nursey worker, attended the Downlands Community School in Hassocks and then Central Sussex College in Crawley. She was studying a foundation degree in early years and childcare there.

The Argus: Katie Horne and her family Katie Horne and her family

Following the verdict, her father Tony Horne said: “It’s taken two years and four months to get here.

Katie was just starting her life, she was 21 years old. She just started a new job, she was loving her position.

“The nursery loved her, the kids loved her. That’s been taken away. That hurts the most for us.

“We always felt there were things missed. We just want people to learn the lessons so that nobody else is in this position again.”

During the inquest, the court heard that Katie, who had a history of autoimmune illnesses in her family, faced a delay in receiving her blood test results determining what type of hepatitis she had due to a “backlog” at the lab as a result of the pandemic.

Consultant Tatyana Viner, who saw Katie two days after she first presented at hospital with symptoms on March 1, told the inquest there were no gastroenterologists available on site when she first visited the hospital.

Questioned if Ms Viner chased the lab results when Katie saw her on March 3, she said she presumed a junior doctor would have done so.

Asked why she didn’t, she replied: “I was busy.”

The Argus: Katie Horne Katie Horne

Katie returned to hospital a further two times before receiving her results, and then met with gastroenterologist Dr Nick Parnell on March 16 - 15 days after she first went to hospital.

Questioned by the coroner as to why the gastroenterologist was not approached, Dr Parnell said: “I do not know why their advice was not sought.”

On March 18, Katie was admitted to the Princess Royal as an inpatient and began receiving steroid treatment on March 20.

The inquest heard that if Dr Parnell was involved earlier, she could have started being treated 10 days earlier than she did.

Katie was transferred to King’s College Hospital on March 24 and was placed under the care of Dr Varuna Aluvihare.

But she tested positive for Covid-19 four days later – which was contracted prior to her admission – meaning she was no longer eligible for a transplant.

Katie was then moved to intensive care on April 5 and died on April 11.

Both Dr Parnell and Dr Aluvihare agreed that if she had received treatment sooner, it would have had a “better outcome”, but they were unable to say if she would have survived.