A 13-year-old boy who tragically died after his appendicitis was twice diagnosed as a gastro virus repeatedly told his family "it just hurts everywhere" in the lead-up to his death.
Luca Raso - described by his mother as "courageous, cheeky and [with] wisdom beyond his years" - died as an ambulance was taking him to John Hunter Hospital in February, 2017, after he collapsed at home.
An inquest into Luca's death, which began in Newcastle on Monday, heard that the teenager had experienced vomiting, diarrhea and extreme lethargy for a week before he died.
"The tragedy for Luca's family is that had a diagnosis of appendicitis been made, his death would have likely been prevented," said Ragni Mathur, the Counsel Assisting State Coroner Teresa O'Sullivan.
Michelle Degenhardt said her son had told her: "it felt like something popped in my tummy".
Despite having hardly eaten for a week, he vomited brown liquid on the morning of the day he died - which his mother described as looking like "Coca Cola syrup".
She was alarmed and called an ambulance after being unable to get Luca an immediate appointment at the medical centre where her son had already been assessed twice in the previous few days. But as Ms Degenhardt was on the phone, Luca collapsed in the bathroom and stopped breathing. He died that afternoon.
The inquest heard that the teenager was taken to see Dr Paul Bilokopytov at one of Bay Medical Group's general practice surgeries twice the week before his death.
The court heard that Dr Bilokopytov, who is due to give evidence today, told Luca's family on both occasions the boy had a viral case of gastroenteritis. But an autopsy on the San Clemente High School student found he died of peritonitis complicated by ruptured gangrenous appendicitis.
Ms Degenhardt and Luca's sister, Victoria Raso, gave evidence at the first day of the inquest.
Ms Degenhardt said her son had "an insatiable thirst" in his final week alive and that he had repeatedly said "it just hurts everywhere".
Both women said Dr Bilokopytov had been made aware of Luca's severe abdominal pain and had specifically ruled out appendicitis, instead telling them it was a virus that could last about a week.
"I just believed what he told me," Ms Degenhardt told the inquest.
"I believed he had gastro."
Ms Raso said she was told that her brother needed to "ride it out" when she took him for his second visit, three days before his death.
The pair stood by their evidence when it was challenged by Bay Medical Group's legal representative in court.
Two receptionists from the practice also gave evidence on Monday.
One, who spoke with Ms Degenhardt on the phone four days before Luca died, agreed she should have asked the teenager's mother to bring him immediately to the surgery.
The inquest heard that the Medical Council of NSW reviewed Dr Bilokopytov's conduct after Luca's death.
He underwent performance management and the council deemed no further action was required.
Outside court before the inquest began, Ms Degenhardt said her son was "full of life, loving and loyal".
"He was courageous, cheeky and had wisdom beyond his years and we miss him every day," she said.
"As a mother, there will never be another loss that comes close to losing my child. It's like a nerve has been severed and remains open and raw.
"Our grief was made worse because we know now that Luca died of a condition that is normally treatable in modern day Australia.
"I have spent the last two and a half years trying to understand how this could have happened.
"My greatest hope is that this inquest will give us all the opportunity to learn from Luca's death and stop this kind of thing from happening again."
The inquest, at Newcastle courthouse, is expected to run for four days.
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