Doctors unable to work equipment to save girl

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The Independent Online
Ten doctors in an operating theatre were unable to work a piece of equipment that could have helped save the life of a 14-year-old girl after a routine operation went wrong, an inquest was told yesterday.

Janine Connor, of Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, went into Withington Hospital, Manchester, for cosmetic surgery to pin back her ears, which had embarrassed her since she was seven.

With the operation complete, Janine suffered a cardiac arrest as she was coming out of general anaesthetic, the inquest at Swinton, Greater Manchester, heard. Two old defibrillator machines - used to provide an electrical shock to stimulate the heart - were brought into the theatre, but doctors were unable to operate them.

Up to 10 vital minutes were lost in the attempt to revive Janine before a third, more modern defibrillator was found and used on her.

The solicitor for Janine's family, Neil Kinsella, asked the surgeon David Whitby: "Don't you think it is extraordinary that out of 10 doctors, nobody was able to operate this defibrillator?" Dr Whitby replied: "Yes."

Over half an hour after the arrest began, surgeons managed to get Janine's heart working by manually massaging it after cutting open her chest. She was transferred to the intensive care unit at the Manchester Children's Hospital, but died six days later without regaining consciousness.

Doctors who gave evidence agreed that defibrillator treatment should be given as soon as possible. The inquest continues.