Entering the flat where Shannon Bancroft brought up her son Kayden with the help of her mother, Julie, it’s clear the trauma Kayden’s death has wrought on the family.
Having earlier agreed to sit down with us, Shannon has gone out. She is just 19, and is barely coping.
“She doesn’t want to live here any more,” says Julie. “It’s all the memories of Kayden, this is where he lived.”
Shannon is sometimes suicidal. “I listen to my daughter and I cry, because of what my daughter’s going through. She’ll ring me and say she’s going to take her own life and things like that,” Julie says, tears in her eyes.
The living room is a shrine to Kayden. On the wall, in large letters, are painted the words: “Because someone we love is in heaven, there’s a little bit of heaven in our home.”
Photos of Kayden paper the walls, along with mementoes – the hat he used to wear, the 3D glasses he wore to watch his favourite film. Framed too is the Mr Men book his grandmother read to him as he lay dying in Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.
Julie tries to cling to the happy memories – Kayden chasing his cat around, or waiting excitedly for his beloved grandfather to come home from work.
But she has been deeply affected. “I work 24-7,” she told us. “I go to work to block it out. I don’t ever take a day off.”
When Kayden fell on to a bed at home last April, banging his mouth on his bottle, Julie thought little of it, but his lips turned blue, so eventually she called an ambulance.
Staff at nearby Stepping Hill Hospital took a chest X-ray, and told Julie and Shannon that Kayden had a hole in his diaphragm, a hernia that he had probably had since birth.
They told her not to worry, but that he needed a simple operation to mend the hole.
They were, after an overnight delay, sent to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, where they were admitted to a ward and, in Julie’s words, “basically put in a room, and left”.
Days passed, and with each one Kayden’s operation was postponed.
Because his bowels and stomach had entered his chest through the hole in his diaphragm, he was in pain.
The family stayed by his bedside day and night, pushing the hospital staff to find an operation slot for him.
“I was just so angry with them because nobody would listen. Nobody would listen to how much pain he was in, and he was in a lot of pain,” says Julie.
Finally, on Friday night, five days after Kayden first fell ill, Shannon rang Julie. “She told me he was grunting in his sleep,” says Julie. “I told her to get a nurse.”
Kayden was going into cardiac arrest – his eyes became fixed on the ceiling, and staff rushed to save him.
The internal call system for summoning help failed though, and there were delays.
It took almost 30 minutes to resuscitate him.
Finally, the hospital sprang into action, and Kayden was taken into surgery.
It took four hours of surgery to fix his hernia, and the family was taken to see him in intensive care.
Tragically, he had been starved of oxygen for too long, and his brain was irreparably injured.
After a weekend of saying their goodbyes, Shannon had to agree to turn off his life support. He died minutes later in her arms.
“I wanted to strangle somebody,” says Julie. “You don’t expect to take a baby to hospital and come away without one. Especially when you’ve got one hospital telling you that it’s such a simple operation.”
She says: “His care, up to him cardiac arresting, was appalling. He was basically put in a room, and left. And all we got, nearly every day, was, ‘He’s not having the operation today, he’s not having the operation today.’
“They were coming up with excuses, ‘There’s no bed, or a car crash victim’s come in, they’ve took his bed.’ That’s all we got, all the time we were there, was excuses, which resulted in Kayden cardiac arresting.”
A hospital investigation has admitted failings in the run-up to Kayden’s death, and senior staff have apologised to the family.
But, as Julie says: “He’s gone, and nothing’s going to bring him back. It doesn’t matter how much they admit what they’ve done, it’s not going to bring him back, is it?”