COVID-19: Girl, 15, died after deteriorating 'astonishingly quickly' from rare heart inflammation caused by virus

A 15-year-old schoolgirl died after deteriorating "astonishingly quickly" from a rare case of heart inflammation caused by coronavirus, an inquest has heard.

Jorja Halliday, from Portsmouth, started to feel unwell in the early hours of 24 September 2021 and tested positive for COVID later that day.

She had a telephone appointment with her GP on 27 September who prescribed her antibiotics for her sore throat - as she had a history of tonsillitis.

The following day, however, her condition worsened and she started to vomit.

She was given another appointment on 28 September, which revealed her heartrate was 147 beats a minute and prompted the doctor to refer her to hospital as an emergency.

Her mother Tracey Halliday drove her to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth as the wait for an ambulance would have been too long, the inquest heard.

There she was placed in a medically induced coma so she could be transferred for specialist care in Southampton - but she died five hours later.

Dr Nicholas Tarmey, the consultant in intensive care medicine who treated Jorja, said she was "really pale".

"Apart from the colour, she looked frightened, not just of the situation, she also had a sense something was seriously wrong with her body," he told the coroner.

"I think it comes from the amount of adrenaline being released by the body to boost blood pressure that gave her the anxious, frightened feeling.

"Her body was struggling to cope and she was deteriorating very quickly and she looked confused and agitated. There are not many illnesses that lead to a deterioration as quickly as that and it is horrible."

Consultant hadn't seen any other child with same issue

Myocarditis, a rare inflammation of the heart, has been identified as an extremely uncommon side effect of the COVID vaccine.

Dr Tarmey added: "We presume it was the COVID that was the virus causing the inflammation of the heart muscle.

"I haven't treated any other children with COVID as the cause of myocarditis, that is in keeping with how rare it is."

The medics could not conclude that a coronavirus vaccine would have improved Jorja's chances of survival.

Jorja, who was a keen kickboxer, had been due to get the COVID vaccine the day she died.

Consultant paediatric pathologist Samantha Holden gave a cause of death of acute myocarditis associated with COVID-19 infection.

Coroner Sarah Whitby gave a verdict of natural causes.

Teenager was 'very active'

Mrs Halliday said after the hearing that the possibility the jab could have saved her daughter will always haunt her.

"It's always going to be a question in my mind, would the outcome have been different.

"It's heart-wrenching because your kids are always meant to outlive you, and that's the one thing I can't get over."

Paying tribute to her, she added: "She was a loving girl and she had lots of friends.

"She was very active, she liked to go out and spend time with her friends and loved spending time with her brothers and sisters.

"Growing up she turned into a beautiful young lady, always wanting to help others, always there for everybody."