Trudy Davis was a fighter, and since her death nearly three years ago her mother Karenne has been fighting for justice on her behalf.
This week Mrs Davis, her husband Geoffrey, Trudy’s two sons and the rest of the family thought that day may finally have come.
However the news that the doctor accused of wrongly discharging Trudy from Shellharbour Hospital in the hours leading to her death had been reprimanded for unsatisfactory professional conduct has brought them no closure.
What’s worse, after sitting through a Professional Standards Committee Hearing into Dr George Chimpanda’s conduct on the night, Mrs Davis was to find out the outcome via a television report.
‘’It was disgusting the way I found out,’’ Mrs Davis said. ‘’And a reprimand? My Trudy’s still at the cemetery and all he got was a slap on the wrist.
‘’I knew the outcome wasn’t going to help Trudy, it wasn’t going to stop us missing her every day, it wasn’t going to give her boys their mother back – but I thought if it helped one person, if it led to big changes, then that would make it worth it.
‘’Yet I don’t feel any relief, I just feel anger.’’
Last week the Professional Standards Committee ordered Dr Chimpanda to undergo further training, concluding he had acted ‘’significantly below the standard reasonably expected of a practitioner of his level of training and experience’’ by sending Trudy home. He can continue to work, and is now based at Griffith Base Hospital.
In 1988 the Illawarra community rallied around the then 16-year-old Trudy; raising $100,000 to enable her to undergo lifesaving surgery in Switzerland for an aggressive brain tumour.
In December 2013, the now 42-year-old Barrack Heights mother was sent home from Shellharbour Hospital after presenting with breathing difficulties, and died of respiratory distress hours later.
‘’A lot of people think she died of brain tumours but when she died there was no sign of tumours,’’ Mrs Davis said. ‘’It kills me that Trudy fought all her life to stay here, and then she died from a lack of oxygen due to respiratory illness.’’
Long-time family friend Janine Cullen said she was furious the Davis’ had found out about the decision the way they had.
‘’They should not have heard through the media the news that the doctor they believe responsible for their daughter’s death had been found guilty (of unsatisfactory professional conduct),’’ she said. ‘’Trudy’s parents, who both have serious health issues themselves, have suffered enough.’’
Janine’s late husband and former Mercury editor Peter Cullen launched the public appeal for Trudy.