Greymouth parents Heather and Dave Gunterare want answers as
to why their "perfectly healthy" 15-year-old son died after
having his appendix removed at Grey Base Hospital two weeks
Mrs Gunter said she wanted to dispel some of the talk in the
community about what caused her son Matt's death, but
stressed they would not rest until they had an explanation.
"We don't want anyone pointing fingers and we don't want
people blaming health professionals, as we do not yet have
The death has been referred to the coroner and the hospital
is undertaking an internal investigation.
"Matt was sick on the Thursday, ended up in hospital on the
Friday and had his appendix removed that night," Mrs Gunter
The Gunters spoke to Matt in recovery after the operation,
which went well. He seemed okay, albeit a "bit grumpy". They
also visited him after he was taken to Parfitt Ward.
She kissed Matt goodbye, telling him they would see him in
"The next morning at 10 to seven we received a call from the
hospital saying that Matt had gone into respiratory arrest;
he had been found not breathing."
They rushed to Matt's side to find hospital staff had
performed CPR on him.
"They were doing an incredible job, they worked on Matt for
eight hours to stabilise him before he was flown to
Christchurch, where he was admitted to the critical care
Matt left Greymouth on life support. He died peacefully 10
days ago in Christchurch Hospital, with his family and
friends by his side.
"Unfortunately, Matt didn't survive, but thanks to the
efforts of all the medical staff involved we were given three
extra days with him," his mother said.
At this stage no one knew what had gone wrong.
"We can't guess, we need to wait until we get all the facts.
But this does not happen to a 15-year-old healthy kid, who
has never been sick in his life," she said.
Matt was farewelled in Greymouth on Saturday with a moving
ceremony that started with a haka as he was carried into the
church. His parents thanked the community and Matt's former
schools, Grey Main and Nelson College, for their support.
- By Viv Logie of the Greymouth Star