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Brain death 'not spotted for days'
Melissa Clarke died following an operation at Bristol
A baby girl lay brain dead in Bristol Royal Infirmary's intensive care unit for days - despite her parents being told she was "doing well", a public inquiry was told.

The mother of 11-month-old Melissa Clarke broke down in tears as two doctors criticised the care given to the baby following an operation to correct a heart defect.

Dr Stephen Bolsin, who eventually made public his own study of the high death rates at Bristol, told the inquiry how he instantly spotted Melissa's condition when he saw her days after the operation.

Dr Stephen Bolsin exposed the scandal
"Melissa was the first patient I saw and it was obvious she had serious cerebral problems".

However, when he spoke to parents Tracey and Graham Clarke, from Tiverton in Devon, he discovered that they had been given no idea of her condition by staff at the hospital.

The inquiry examined the case of Melissa Clarke in detail during the second day of evidence from Dr Bolsin, who has flown in from Australia to appear.

Another witness Dr Ted Sumner, an anaesthetist from Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, described how he had been "disturbed" on investigating the post-operative care given to Melissa.

He found that a urine catheter had not been inserted until well after the operation, despite the flow of urine being a sensitive indicator of how well the repaired heart is functioning.

'Inadequate cardiology input'

She had not been "adequately treated" for the low cardiac output, and echo equipment was used too late.

"The impression I got was of inadequate cardiology input post-operatively."

Dr Bolsin said that the decision on whether to use a catheter would have been taken by the surgical team involved.

The inquiry follows an investigation into high death rates at Bristol by the General Medical Council which led to disciplinary action against two surgeons, James Wisheart and Janardan Dhasmana, and a hospital manager, Dr John Roylance.

Mr Wisheart and Dr Roylance were struck off, while Dr Dhasmana was banned from operating on children.

See also:

22 Nov 99 | Health
25 Mar 99 | The Bristol heart babies
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