Gaia Young, 25, died of 'unexplained' condition - inquest finds

Former Camden School for Girls pupil, Gaia Young

Former Camden School for Girls pupil, Gaia Young - Credit: Dorit Young

Lord Young’s Islington-based daughter died aged 25 as medics may have failed to give her the best chance of survival, an inquest has found.

Gaia Young, 25, described as “healthy” and “clean-living”, died of an unexplained brain condition after falling ill on July 17. 

She became violently sick after spending the day cycling in the sun, according to her mother Dorit, with whom she lived in Gibson Square, Barnsbury.

Medics at University College Hospital said they initially suspected Gaia, whose father was the late social activist and Labour peer Michael Young, was intoxicated when she arrived at A&E “confused” and “falling asleep” late in the evening.

But an inquest at St Pancras Coroner’s Court heard the artist never drank excessively or took recreational drugs and had no underlying health problems.

Senior coroner Mary Hassell found Ms Young had died of a cerebral edema – a condition which causes the brain to swell – after hearing evidence from medical experts involved in the case.

But the cause of the condition, which worsened rapidly and was not immediately diagnosed, remains unknown after a series of missteps in Ms Young’s care, the inquest heard.

Crucial scans which could have detected the illness were not carried out and clinicians may have developed “confirmation bias” which caused them to miss other signs.

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Dorit Uhlemann, Lady Young, was not allowed to go with her daughter to hospital due to coronavirus restrictions at the time and said she was “not kept informed”. 

Gaia Young, who has died unexpectedly aged 25

Gaia Young, who has died unexpectedly aged 25 - Credit: Busayo Agbetuyi

Dr Thomas Samuels, one of the medics caring for Gaia, apologised for the lack of communication.

He said a “best interests” decision was made to perform a lumbar puncture – a procedure to diagnose a patient’s symptoms – on July 18 without telling her mother.

But the 25-year-old stopped breathing properly which meant the procedure could not be completed, the inquest heard.

“I recognise that communication during the course of the day would ideally have been better than it was,” he said.

But the doctor added that he believed the medical decisions made were appropriate in the circumstances.

Gaia suffered a respiratory arrest at around 3.15pm from which she did not recover and later died in the same hospital on July 21.

Turning to the family, the coroner added: “I’m very, very sorry for your loss. I’m sorry for the loss of such a young woman, so suddenly and so shockingly.”

Additional reporting by Nina Lloyd, PA