A doctor said a “chill went down my spine” when he found a possible explanation for numerous collapses of babies, the murder trial of Lucy Letby heard.
Dr Ravi Jayaram said a number of “unusual and “inexplicable events” at the Countess of Chester Hospital’s neo-natal unit led to a meeting of consultants at the end of June 2016.
Nurse Letby, 33, is accused of murdering seven babies and attempting to murder 10 others on various dates between 8 June 2015 and 25 June 2016.
On Wednesday, consultant Dr Jayaram told Manchester Crown Court how he saw “bright pink” patches that “flittered around” the abdomen of one infant he treated in April 2016.
Jurors were told how he responded to an emergency call from nurses to attend Child M, a twin baby boy, who had stopped breathing as his heart rate and oxygen levels plummeted.
He said it was a prolonged resuscitation that lasted “close to 30 minutes” and at one point he thought of stopping the efforts to revive him.
However, Child M “suddenly recovered” as his heart rate rose and he started breathing again, he said.
Dr Jayaram said: “I was very pleased but I couldn’t really explain what had caused it and why he had suddenly got better.”
He later stated to police he witnessed Child M’s “unusual” skin discolouration when he arrived during the resuscitation.
Dr Jayaram told the court: “They were patches of very bright pink on his torso that flittered around. They would appear and disappear.
“Once circulation was restored and his heart rate came up above 100 (beats per minute) they vanished.”
He said the discolouration was “very similar” to what he had seen in his treatment of Child A, the first alleged murder victim.
Other colleagues had spoken of seeing skin discolouration in other babies who had also collapsed on the unit, he said.
A meeting of a consultants was held on 29 June 2016, the court heard.
Dr Jayaram said: “After a number of further unusual, unexplained and inexplicable events on the neo-natal unit the whole consultant body sat down and said ‘we really need to work out what is going on here’.
He said that “one thing that came up in our discussion” was air embolism – when gas bubbles enter a vein or artery and can block blood supply.
Dr Jayaram said it prompted him that evening to conduct a literature search in which he found a research paper which described the effects of air embolism.
He said: “I remember sitting on my sofa at home with the iPad and reading that description, and the physical chill that went down my spine because it fitted with what we were seeing.”
Dr Jayaram emailed colleagues a link to the research paper the next day.
Letby, originally from Hereford, is said to have attacked several of her victims by injecting air into their bloodstream.
She denies all the allegations.
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