Inquest told baby died after heart unit turned off
A FOUR-MONTH-OLD baby died in hospital after his ventilator failed and the heart and lung bypass machine he was later linked up to was accidentally switched off, an inquest heard yesterday.
Thomas Smith, who suffered from Down's syndrome, was admitted to Birmingham Children's Hospital for surgery to correct a congenital heart defect in December 2004 and died five days later.
The doctor in charge of Thomas and the heart and lung bypass machine described the moment the equipment stopped working on 12 December.
Simon McGuirk, a cardiac surgical registrar, said he had been cleaning up some blood he had spilt on the equipment when he accidentally lifted the lid.
Mr McGuirk told the hearing that Thomas's blood pressure had dropped the moment the machine stopped and that he called for help.
Once resuscitation measures were in place, he said a nurse had telephoned a member of staff who knew how to restart the machine and relayed instructions to him.
Mr McGuirk said there were two sets of coloured buttons on the machine, one blue, one orange.
He said: "I was indicated to press two buttons at the same time to restart the machine.
"She didn't know which colour they were; in view of that I went for two blue which I thought was a less horrid colour than the orange."
Mr McGuirk said this had caused blood to be sucked from, instead of to, Thomas and he had immediately switched the machine off.
The inquest, which is due to last three days, will investigate whether Thomas was neglected by the hospital.
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