Tourist death continues to baffle doctors

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The Independent Online
THE DEATH of a teenage holiday-maker who was found to have surgical equipment in her abdomen was mystifying doctors in both Britain and the Greek island of Corfu last night.

Karen Murray, 19, collapsed with severe stomach pains while on holiday with her boyfriend in Corfu and died in an ambulance on the way to hospital.

It emerged last night that the medical gauze and plastic surgical clips found in her large intestine may have been there for eight years.

A solicitor acting for Miss Murray's family confirmed yesterday that Karen had surgery for a lower-bowel disorder at Alder Hey Children's Hospital, in Liverpool, in October and December 1990.

Miss Murray's body will be flown back to England. There will almost certainly be another post-mortem examination and an inquest.

Paul Walker, Karen's brother, said: "The family have not been informed officially of the circumstances of Karen's death, or informed that there has been a post-mortem or its findings."

Miss Murray, who was training to be a nursery nurse, was with her boyfriend, Mark Holloway, in the resort of Sidari when she started to feel unwell.

She was seen by a Greek doctor and later the same day was taken by ambulance to the general hospital in Corfu Town, but died during the journey.

It is understood that Dr Stefanos Gasteratos, who performed the post- mortem examination, halted proceedings after finding gauze and two plastic surgical clips in her large intestine.

Last night Dr Gasteratos claimed Miss Murray died because British doctors were criminally negligent.

"I was shocked to find four clips with four gauzes. For me this was a criminal act caused by negligent doctors," Dr Gasteratos told Greek TV station Skai.

Dr Gasteratos described Miss Murray's condition as the worst he had seen in his career.

Her boyfriend said she had complained of stomach pains before she went on holiday. But Derek Machin, a neurology surgeon at Aintree Hospital Trust on Merseyside, said it was highly unlikely that surgical equipment would have been left in Karen's stomach during her 1990 operations.

Mr Machin said: "A very careful count is made before and after any operation of the instruments and the swabs used. It is very, very rare to have an instrument left inside the body.

"That would mean we are either dealing with a seriously incompetent situation or looking at something entirely different."