Listener discretion is advised. This episode features graphic discussions of violence, child murder, the loss of an infant and medical malpractice that may be upsetting. We advise extreme caution for listeners under 13. Young children struggle to distinguish between needs and wants, so they engage in attention seeking behaviors to secure reassurance from their parents. Then, in adolescence and adulthood, they learn to pursue praise and affirmation in healthier ways, often by excelling in their careers or hobbies. But for nurse Beverley Allitt, performing well in her job wasn't enough.
She didn't just want people to see her as a diligent worker. She wanted them to see her as a hero in a remote, small town hospital. She discovered she could manufacture heroism by coming to the rescue of dying children. Their parents showered her with praise and thanked her for her efforts, unaware that she was the reason for their misery.
This is Medical Murders, a Spotify original from podcast, every year, thousands of medical students take the Hippocratic Oath. It boils down to do no harm. But a closer look reveals a phrase much more interesting. I must not play it God. However, some doctors break that oath. They choose to play God with their patients, deciding who lives and who dies each week on medical murders. We'll investigate these doctors, nurses and medical professionals. We'll explore the specifics of how medical killers operate not just on their patients or within their own minds.
Examining the psychology and neurology behind heartless medical killers. I'm Alastair Madden and I'm joined by Dr. David Kipper, M.D..
Hi, everyone. I'm Dr. Kipper, and I'm here today to assist Allaster with some medical insight into our first episode of nurse Beverley Allitt, a medical professional who perfected the art of doing more harm than good.
You can find episodes of medical murders and all other Spotify originals from podcast for free on Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts to stream medical murders for free on Spotify, just open the app and type medical murders in the search bar. This is our first episode on nurse Beverley Allitt, one of Britain's most notorious baby killers. Over a two month period in 1991, she murdered four children, including three infants and injured nine others. This week, we'll explore how Beverly's seemingly idyllic childhood took a dark tone.
We'll also investigate how her deteriorating mental health led her down a path toward attacking children. Next time, we'll cover the hospital's attempts to address their rising death toll until finally, a crucial piece of evidence brought Beverly's rampage to an end. Or this and more coming up.
Stay with us.
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Honey Nut Cheerios good starts with happy hearts. Head to your local grocery store and pick up a box today. That's only nine weeks old, little Becky Phillips hadn't had a fortunate beginning. She and her twin sister Katie, were born premature and they'd spend the first two months of their lives under close medical observation with recurring tummy troubles. They both returned to their local hospital in Grantham, United Kingdom. Still, the doctors hadn't been able to come up with a diagnosis.
This made their mother, Sue Phillips, understandably nervous. On April 1st, 1991, Becky vomited across the room and Sue again brought her daughter back to hospital. A few days later, the nurses called to say Becky was ready to come home. Sue and her husband, Peter, entered Ward for the pediatric unit and greeted the staff. They waited while the attending physician, Dr. Nanayakkara, known as Dr. Nuna, examined Becky. After some discussion, Doctor Nona realized that Becky's powdered milk formula was the culprit.
Once they switched to a different formula. The stomach troubles disappeared. Sue breathed a sigh of relief. Unfortunately, her comfort was premature. On their way out, a tomboyish 22 year old nurse named Beverley Allitt pulled suicide. Beverley advised her that Becky was too sick to leave. Sue liked Beverly, but Beverly was a nurse, and Sue trusted Dr. Nonna's judgment more. That evening, Becky suddenly began to wail and agonized screech that made her parents race to her crib.
They saw Becky's eyes rolled back in her head as if she were having a seizure. Peter suggested they take her back to the hospital, but Sue refused. It had only been four hours since Dr. Nona gave Becky a clean bill of health, and Sue didn't want to be the mother who cried wolf. Becky finally calmed down and her parents agreed to sleep next to her just in case something happened. They lay awake in the dark listening to the sounds of their baby breathing.
Then Peter heard the sounds stop. They leapt into action. Peter tried resuscitation while Susan scrambled to find a phone. They bundled up little Becky and sped down the road to the hospital. They watched sobbing as the nurses called in the crash team.
A crash team is composed of doctors and nurses trained in emergency resuscitation in hospitals. This team responds to what's known as a code blue, which equates to an emergency health situation like cardiac arrest, vitória arrest. Crash teams are specifically made up of available doctors, nurses, respiratory therapist, anesthesiologists and sometimes interns and residents. If it's a teaching hospital, code blues are expected to be announced by anyone who finds a patient in cardiac arrest Vettori arrest. And they do so by pushing a blue button or by calling the hospital operator from a patient's room or even screaming code blue outside the patient's room.
Crash teams can also be alerted of coding patients via a remote nurse who's monitoring their heart rhythm at a nursing station. When a nurse notices that dreaded flatline rhythm, they know it's time to immediately announce the code blue for a baby undergoing cardiopulmonary arrest. It's the exact same procedure, however, the responding team will specialize in treating newborns and children. Also, there's an obvious difference in the equipment they'll use in terms of size of the instruments and the medication doses needed for resuscitation.
No matter how skilled these emergency responder teams are, time is always of the essence. If they can't restore normal breathing and heart rhythm quickly enough, the patient will die.
The doctors shocked the tiny child with electricity and pumped air into her lungs. But it was too late. Becky was dead. Beverly's words replayed in Sue's mind, if she had listened, would her child still be alive? Sue felt the walls closing in around her doctor. Nana couldn't explain what had happened. Then Sue overheard the nurses whispering something that made her skin crawl. Becky wasn't the first child to die in that unit. In fact, the tragedy came after two other children died in Ward four, sending the nurses into panic.
They wondered if it was a medical error or some kind of virus, but if they'd been paying attention, they may have seen a slight smile on Beverly Owlets face as she tossed a tiny insulin syringe into the rubbish bin.
It was all she had to do to rid herself of her murder weapon. The sinister danger hid behind the painfully ordinary as it had all Beverly's life. In 1968, Beverley Allitt was born in Corbi Glen, a small pastoral village near Grantham, an unremarkable town a little over a hundred miles north of London.
And we mean, no offense. In 1981, more than 1000 of Grantham's residents petitioned the BBC to declare their town the dullest place in Britain. Nothing ever happened there, and people liked it that way. In this bland environment, Beverly, the third of four children, likely fought hard to distinguish herself from her siblings from an early age. She did this by obsessing over children. Her friend Rachel Smith recalled that her first memory of Beverly was of the six year old pushing her baby brother in his pram.
Beverly had a way with kids, especially infants and toddlers. She frequently babysat for her neighbors, who were impressed by how well she took to mothering. She relished playing with the little ones, and she never missed a feeding or nappy change. It didn't take long for Beverly to build a reputation around this nurturing persona. Nearly everyone in Corbi Glenn grew to trust Beverly with their offspring whenever they needed to leave town. As one story goes, she used to visit her grandmother every Sunday, and each week she brought a different child with her.
So no one was surprised when, at age 12, she stated her desire to become a nurse. It wasn't a daring hope. Then again, not much that Beverly did ever was an overweight girl. She dressed plainly in baggy jeans and jumpers. She never wore makeup and kept her hair cropped short to make it easy to manage. She was popular but not rebellious, and always turned in her homework on time. Perhaps the one thing that made her stand out besides her fascination with childcare was her propensity for injury.
Beverly often arrived at school with a sling, fresh bandages or a cast she'd made herself. She always had an elaborate story to go with it. One time she claimed she'd fallen off of a horse. Another she got hit by a car.
Her series of misfortunes never failed to earn the attention of her classmates. However, she balked whenever they asked to see underneath the medical wrappings. That's probably because the stories were mostly fiction, with one dark exception. Sometimes Beverly deliberately injured herself for an authentic wound. Beverly's father recalled that since she was 13, Beverly seemed to have a new ache, cut or bruise. Every week, Beverly was showing early signs of factitious disorder, known previously as Munchausen syndrome.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, factitious disorder is a psychological condition where a patient falsifies, exaggerates or creates illness to deceive others. This is different from drug seeking or malingering, where the person is looking for some kind of material or financial gain. Patients with factitious disorder crave sympathy or admiration, and they've been known to go to extreme lengths to get it, such as swallowing drain cleaner and injecting themselves with feces.
Although it's a mental health condition, all doctors, regardless of their specialties as well, at some point encounter patients with factitious disorder. As you mentioned, Allaster, this disease was originally known as Munchausen syndrome and first appeared in the 1980 DSM. As such, the name came from a seventeen hundred German literary character, Baron Munchhausen, who constantly exaggerated and lied about his health issues. The disorder entails someone manipulating other. Spy faking an illness, intentionally getting sick or purposely injuring themselves, it can also manifest is incorrectly presenting others as ill or injured.
An example would be a parent who falsely describes their child's health is compromised. The cause of factitious disorder isn't known exactly, but it's been linked to physical, emotional and sexual trauma during childhood. I've actually had a couple of patients with this disorder and each time it plays out as someone complaining of a symptom or symptoms that require investigation after running tests and probing deeper, I'll find no physical indicators of their reported problems. When this is explained to them, their symptoms suddenly take on new forms requiring different methods of assessment.
Eventually, you can reasonably make a diagnosis of factitious disorder when repeated complaints don't line up with scientific findings, when patients say their symptoms contradict themselves.
And after you've gained more insight into someone's medical and psychological background, it can sometimes be very hard, even for trained doctors to realize when ailments might be real or imagined.
But Beverly couldn't fool people forever. As her injuries grew more frequent, those close to her noticed that she was extremely manipulative and relished spreading rumors about her friends behind their backs. And the stories she told grew more outlandish. She met her first boyfriend, Kevin, when she was 16 and refused to let him meet her family. She told him that she was living with her grandmother because her father had mistreated her. The next time they talk, she painted her mother as the villain instead.
By late adolescence, Beverly had earned the nickname The Fable because no one could keep track of her lies. Every day was something new. But no matter how implausible the story seemed, Beverly never let on that she'd made them up. After three or four months of casual dating, Kevin grew tired of the games and split up with her. After the jarring rejection, Beverly's need to be noticed and praised grew to desperation. She continued to invent illnesses, but her disillusioned peers no longer cared.
No matter what she said, she began to feel something new. A cold, ferocious rage. Coming up, Beverly's attention seeking takes a violent turn. Hi, it's Carter from Parks Network, the Vatican is one of the most recognizable religious sites in the world, but it's also a powerful institution, its unique history full of secrecy. This Easter may show conspiracy theories looks deep into the church's past to uncover how it became what it is today. Starting April 5th, our new four part mini series, Mysteries of the Vatican, dives in to examine some of the most prominent conspiracy theories surrounding this mysterious organization.
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And get this naked has a money back guarantee, which means you can get a refund for any wine you don't love even if you drank it all. Support talented winemakers, get better wine in return, get started at naked wines, dotcom, Spotify. And now back to the story, Beverley Allitt was an unremarkable girl from an insignificant village in Lincolnshire, England. As a teenager, she enjoyed pranking her friends and spinning webs of drama in her personal life.
But most of all, Beverly loved children. She dreamed of becoming a pediatric nurse. So in 1985, 16 year old Beverly left secondary school and signed up for a pre nursing class at Grantham College. But when the class was over, there weren't any openings for nursing school. She passed the time working at the local pub. It was there in September 1987 that she met an 18 year old, Steve Biggs. Steve was a big boned, soft hearted road worker with a shy smile.
He was immediately smitten upon seeing Beverly and one of her friends playing pool at the encouragement of his grandfather. He asked her out for several months. They were happy together. Steve loved Beverly's easy laugh, and she enjoyed having an audience for her wild fabrications. She told him about imaginary fights with her family and the ghost she claimed to see at work. In one shocking tale, Beverly claimed that her previous boyfriend, Kevin, held her at knifepoint and tried to rape her.
Steve was outraged, and Beverly had to talk him out of confronting Kevin about it. She didn't actually want Steve to fight Kevin. She just fed on the extreme sympathy he showed her. Such lies intensified their romantic bond. And it was only months later, around Christmas time, when Beverly asked if Steve wanted to marry her. To her delight, Steve said yes. Even though his perceptive brother had taken an instant dislike to Beverly, it seemed Steve didn't care.
He was in love and he wanted to keep the woman who'd won his affection happy. So Steve used his savings to buy her a ring and his mum threw a party. But as the months wore on, Beverly's behavior became more erratic. She crashed Steve's car and insisted he lie about it to her parents. She also demanded he work out more. Sometimes she'd order him to do sit ups in front of her friends while she watched with an amused smile.
Steve always did as he was told, but it was never enough. Beverly was a manipulator at heart. She loved toying with his emotions. She refused to hold hands with him in public and encouraged rumors that she was actually a lesbian in order to make him jealous. Eventually, Beverly was able to satisfy her hunger for attention outside her personal life. In September, nineteen eighty eight nineteen year old Beverly started her nurse's training. Now that she had a new group of friends to appreciate her, she didn't need Steve anymore.
On the rare occasions she allowed him to visit her shared apartment, she spent more time with her roommates than her own fiancee. Then her emotional ambivalence escalated into physical abuse once she punched Steve in the face while he was driving, nearly killing them both. Another time, she hit him in the groin. Steve's friends joked about how often he showed up with bruises. A tough young man, Steve, shrugged it off. But his willingness to endure Beverly's outbursts was dwindling.
One evening in the winter of 1989, Steve finally had enough. He told Beverly they were done. He expected she'd be angry, but he didn't anticipate what came next. She yanked him by the hair and dragged him to the ground before slamming his face into her knee repeatedly. Shockingly, the two remained together. But Beverly was affected by her perception that Steve betrayed her. In the days and weeks that followed, Beverly's supposed illnesses only grew more frequent.
She visited at least half a dozen different doctors, complaining of problems with her stomach, kidneys and gall bladder. She visited the emergency room so many times that the radiologist refused to do any more X-rays.
Beverly's desperation for medical diagnoses revealed patterns of behavior commonly found in those with substance abuse problems. In fact, Dr. Mark Feldman, an expert in factitious disorders, wrote in his 2008 book Dying to Be Ill, that his patients used many of the same words as addicts do to describe their condition. Beverly was chasing a sympathy high, and she needed to manufacture more extreme ailments to get it. Process addictions like obsessive gambling are essentially a feedback loop wherein a certain behavior gets reinforced over time, even to the person's detriment on a neurochemical level process, addictions involve dopamine, a neurotransmitter that governs the brain's reward system.
Dopamine is responsible for excitement, stimulation and feelings of pleasure. And people who have behavioral addictions tend to have imbalanced dopamine systems, meaning their brains produce insufficient, usable amounts of it. When someone with this imbalance engages in exciting risk taking behaviors like gambling, they get dopamine surges that make them feel good and chemically more stable. Obsessive behaviors, however, can also be linked to insufficient serotonin in the brain. The neurotransmitter that calms down low levels of serotonin create feelings of agitation and anxiety, which can play into compulsivity and addictive tendencies as well, because they both involve the unconscious need to correct an imbalance.
Neurochemical soup process addictions are very similar to substance dependencies. As with substance abusers, process addicts also escalate their behaviours over time due to a tolerance factor. This is because their brains grow accustomed to the associated dopamine spikes and the inertia quenching of obsessive behaviours. Over time, in order to repeat a satisfactory high, they need to progressively heighten the intensity of their experiences to mount a stronger dose of these transmitters. This is why Beverly gradually began to take more extreme action in garnering sympathy for someone with a gambling addiction.
The consequence of escalation can be bankruptcy. For a patient with fictitious disorder, it could be permanent physical harm or even death.
As a young woman interested in the medical profession, Beverly had to know her behavior was risking not only her health but her future as well. Her constant flurry of health problems often kept her out of school and away from her studies. Between nineteen eighty eight in 1990, when she trained as a student nurse at Grantham and Stephen General Hospital, she was counted absent 126 times due to illness. The toll it took on her body was considerable. She injured her head, her left leg, her right hand and her right foot.
She was on multiple medications. She even used a catheter to urinate. And because of government subsidized health care, these treatments came at the taxpayer's expense. Some doctors saw through her tricks and refused to treat her, but not all of them did. It's likely that nursing school actually helped Beverly become an expert at faking medical conditions.
And if one doctor questioned her story, she quickly found another. Who would be more trusting in this way? She was able to hop between various doctors and pharmacies without anyone catching on to her game. Still, it seems Beverly grew tired of all the faking. She wanted real evidence of medical intervention. So in nineteen ninety, she convinced a surgeon to remove her appendix. Appendicitis is a condition that occurs when the appendix, a pouch like sac attached to the first section of the large intestine becomes inflamed.
If left untreated, the appendix can burst, releasing bacteria and fecal matter into the bloodstream, which can quickly lead to sepsis and death in order to diagnose appendicitis.
There are a few steps that need to be taken. The first indicator is severe abdominal pain, which ultimately localizes in the right lower quadrant of the belly. The discomfort may also be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. An exam follows with the patient lying down on their back, drawing an imaginary line from the bellybutton to the top of the right hip bone. The appendix sits in the middle of this imaginary line, and palpate in the abdomen here will elicit tenderness and pain when the most sensitive spot is located.
A doctor then looks for rebound tenderness in this area, which is when you palpate deeply and then let go suddenly. And if the pain becomes more intense, your diagnosis is confirmed. This physical exam should also be accompanied by a blood test and an abdominal CAT scan until about 15 years ago.
Removing the appendix or an appendectomy would entail cutting the abdomen open, damaging the tissues around the appendix in order to locate and ultimately remove the organ. Today, this procedure can be done less invasive, with laparoscopy using a small incision for the laparoscope, allowing doctors to efficiently locate and remove the appendix with minimal tissue trauma and scarring nowadays, if an appendicitis is caught in its early stages. People can even avoid surgery altogether with antibiotic treatment, most of the time, a physician has no reason to suspect that their patient is being dishonest about their symptoms.
However, Beverley's doctors should have done more tests and examinations to rule out other diagnoses.
Beverly had returned to work just days later and proudly displayed her surgical scar.
She probably told her fellow trainees that she had faced death and returned a hero when they didn't engage with her. She scratched at the stitches to create an infection and returned with antibiotics. And a fresh story to tell. Tracy Jobson considered that her friend Beverly stories may have been embellished, but in her mind, the exaggerations were simply part of Beverly's charm. It apparently didn't occur to her that Beverley's infection may have been self-inflicted. Some of the senior nurses, however, were not so sure.
One of her supervisors took note of her repeated injuries and suggested that Beverly seek psychiatric help. But they failed to recognize that the slings and bandages were only part of a larger stranger pattern of behavior. In the final days of 1999, shortly after Steve attempted to break up with Beverly, weird things started happening at the flat Beverly shared with her fellow trainees. It started with the harassment of Beverly's friend, Nikki. Nikki received strange calls with no answer. Flowers arrived with no notes attached.
Then one day she came home to find human feces smeared across her door. The events continued a mysterious fire, missing credit cards and superglue in some of the locks. At least one nurse suspected that the prankster in residence, Beverly, was behind the bizarre occurrences, but there was no evidence to prove Beverly's guilt. Finally, the hospital manager told the Iranians that if the pranks didn't stop, he'd expel them all. At that, the pranks halted. But Beverly never admitted to anything.
In autumn of 1990, Beverly took her nursing exam and passed with an average score.
It was common practice at Grantham for nursing graduates to be offered positions at the hospital until they could get on their feet. But Beverly was rejected. The interviewers wrote that she was one of the worst candidates they'd ever seen. Her clothes were disheveled and dirty, and when asked about the kind of work she'd be doing, she appeared totally lost. As a result, it would take a while for Beverly to convince any nursing facility to hire her. Months later, on February 13th, 1991, Beverly interviewed for a children's medicine training course at Pilgrim Hospital less than an hour outside Grantham.
She was told that she didn't have enough experience and was sent packing. The experience rattled Beverly to her core. She knew she was special, but nobody else did. All she needed was the chance to prove her worth. Back at Grantham Hospital, the nursing manager, Moira Onions, had put out an advert for a pediatric nurse in Ward four. At the time, Great Britain was experiencing a national shortage of children's nurses when not a single person responded.
Bunions reached out to Beverley for an interview.
Nurse Onions knew about Beverley's 126 absences during her training. To make matters worse, it became clear in the interview that Beverly was too unskilled for the job. More than that, Nossa Onions felt something about Beverly was simply off.
There was a coldness about her that put onions on edge, but she was desperate to hire someone.
Nursing shortages can have a significant impact on the efficiency and quality of care at hospitals, especially in rural areas like Grantham. The reasons for this vary, but one is that the salaries in rural hospitals tend to be lesser than in their big city counterparts. On top of this, nursing in these larger environments tends to be easier in that there are more nurses available to share workload responsibilities. Also, equipment and procedural practices in these big communities are generally more state of the art.
On a more obvious note, rural populations are smaller, so the local pool of potential nurses is by definition diminished. It may be that nurses from larger areas avoid these quieter locations in order to stay close to their friends and families. Additionally, in the last 10 years, it's become a popular trend for nurses to seek additional training to become nurse practitioners where they are allowed to work as private practitioners. This gives them more autonomy and drastically increases their earning potentials.
This career choice is actually a nuance in medicine that's diminished nursing applicants for hospital settings throughout the country, regardless of community size. However, despite shortages in hospitals, it's very unwise to hire unqualified or just satisfactory nurses, even if it means more patients can be tended to. Unfortunately, if the hospital administrators are desperate enough, they sometimes end up hiring and people that do more harm than good.
Beverly was as unqualified as it gets, but since it was either Beverly or nothing, Nurse Onions hired Beverly for a six month contract. On February 15th, 1991, Beverly became Ward Four's newest nurse. Less than two weeks later, she'd use her new position to commit murder. Coming up, Beverly begins a killing spree on Ward four.
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So you're never not prepared for an adventure. Bronco sport built wild. Learn more at Ford Dotcom. And now back to the story, despite her routine absences, mental instability and general incompetence, staffing shortages allowed 22 year old Beverly Allitt to secure a nursing job as a state enrolled nurse at Grantham Hospital. Finally, her lifelong dream of looking after sick children came true. Unfortunately, Beverly's need for attention far outstripped any desire to heal others in the previous years, that need manifested through her wild stories and self-harm.
But shortly before she started work, a new idea occurred to her. She didn't have to hurt herself to be noticed. She could injure others. Instead, her first victim was Liam Taylor. Liam was born just before New Year's Eve 1990, and he was, by all accounts, a healthy, happy child. His parents nicknamed him Pudding Pants because of his adorable rolls of baby fat. But in early February, Liam fell ill. He cried ceaselessly.
His mother, Joanne, and father Chris tried everything to calm him down, but nothing worked. They'd called for the doctor who prescribed antibiotics. This seemed to work, but after a week, the sickness returned. The doctor took one look at Liam and told Joanne he needed a hospital. On February 21st, only six days after Beverly's first day on staff, Joanne Taylor bundled up her seven week old baby and hit the road. She arrived at Grantham Hospital around 1:00 p.m. The doctors examined Liam immediately and fitted him with an oxygen mask to help him breathe.
Joanne was terrified, but a nurse reassured. Her son simply had a chest cold, and Liam would get better soon by the time her husband arrived. Liam already seemed to be improving. Around four thirty PM, two nurses told Joanne and Chris that they could take a break from their vigilance. Seeing Nurse Beverley leaning over Liam's cot, Liam's parents thought their son was in good hands when they returned. A few hours later, Ward four was in a panic.
Liam had taken a surprising turn for the worse. He was white as a sheet and totally still. Joanne felt her stomach twist in fear without a moment's pause.
Beverly confessed that Liam threw up violently during his feeding. She gave detail after detail, emphasising her own attempts to help him. Joanne showed gratitude for the young nurse, but she remained devastated by her son's state. Things only worsened when the consulting physician, Dr Nana, arrived and carted Liam off to a special treatment room. 30 minutes later, he informed the Ashan parents that Liam had pneumonia and was in grave danger.
They sat with Liam through the night praying for a miracle, and then they got one. Liam began to recover.
Chris breathed a huge sigh of relief when Liam opened his eyes and smiled at him. Beverley stayed as well, giving Liam one on one care the whole time. Chris and Joanne appreciated how Nurse Beverley always took the time to explain everything that was happening. When Chris asked if they should transfer Liam to the better equipped Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham, Beverley insisted that Liam would get more attention where he was. Unfortunately, they trusted her advice. At five a.m. on the twenty third, one of the nurses woke up, Chris and Joanne.
They stumbled down the corridor to where Dr Nana and a group of nurses stood around Liam's cot. Their infant was connected to dozens of wires and tubes. The doctor took them aside in a quiet, measured tone. He said that Liam had suffered cardiac arrest and respiratory failure. If the boys survived, he would have severe brain damage.
When a person stops breathing for such a long period of time, their tissues become starved of oxygen and cells begin to die. This damage could quickly become irreversible. In these scenarios, there are limited treatment options, but these depend on how significant the brain damage is. If someone slightly impaired, they can usually be cared for at home by loved ones, depending on the dynamics of the family or the abilities of the primary caregiver. However, if this solution isn't viable or their dysfunction is too great brain damage, people can live in private or state run facilities these settings provide.
Full time staff that handles the patient's hygiene, feeding, bowel and bladder activities and any other specific needs they might have. Sometimes, however, like in the case of Liem, hypoxic brain damage can be devastating to the point that any semblance of a quality of life is out of the question. This would equate to someone being nearly brain dead and the person would have to be kept artificially alive until death. Unfortunately, in a situation like this, there are no good options.
Chris and Joanne would be grieving the loss of their son.
Either way, the best thing the Taylors could do was to say goodbye. Liam was eight weeks old and he hadn't been baptized yet. So Chris called for a chaplain who administered the right. As the hours passed, they watched their son breathe through a machine hooked up to tubes and wires. Dr. Nana offered scant advice. After a tearful discussion, Chris and Joanne decided that Liam had suffered enough.
They ordered the nurses to stop the medications. Chris and Joanne cradled Liam for hours and rocked him gently. The boy was so light he barely weighed anything. After a while, Liam's breathing slowed and became erratic, and it stopped forever. Dr Nuna listed the cause of death as pneumonia and probables septicaemia, another term for a blood infection. But the coroner, Mr. T.J. Purt, disagreed.
A post-mortem analysis revealed no signs of pneumonia in Liam's lungs and no evidence of infection. However, when Mr Purt and the consultant pathologist, Dr. Terry Marshall, examined Liam's heart, they found severe tissue damage on the left ventricle, which delivers oxygen rich blood to the body. All signs pointed to a myocardial infarction as the cause of death.
Myocardial infarction is the medical term for a heart attack. Heart attacks happen when one or more coronary arteries get blocked and blood is no longer able to supply the heart muscles that pump the oxygenated blood throughout the body. An eight week old infant dying of a heart attack is incredibly rare. There are, however, ways in which young children can die from heart attacks. But this generally happens when they're significantly older than Liam was. One example would be Kawasaki disease, which causes inflammation throughout the body's medium sized arteries, like the coronary arteries.
This damage can lead to the weakening of the coronary artery walls and potentially create bulging aneurysms that stop adequate blood flow, subsequently causing a heart attack. It's more common for an infant like Liem to suffer a heart attack from a congenital arterial aneurysm. This is a rarity, and it's attributed to an in utero infection, abnormal vascular development or direct tissue trauma to the developing heart muscles. In Liam's case, death from a heart attack could potentially make sense if Beverly damaged the ventricle directly by injecting it with some corrosive toxin or chemical heart attacks, which generally occur due to coronary artery disease typically happen in adults as a result of lifestyle choices like smoking or poor diet and genetic predisposition.
Obviously, this couldn't be a factor in Liam's death. There had to be more to it.
The real cause, unbeknownst to the staff, was Nurse Beverley. For several days, she'd gotten to play Liam's saviour and it satisfied a need deep within her soul. Forget about the attention she got for her self harm. This was a thousand times better. Unfortunately, we'll never know exactly what Beverly administered to Liam as his body was cremated soon after. But later, investigators were confident she was the killer. The infant's passing would turn out to be just the first in an alarming string of deaths and unexplained emergencies on Ward four that year, two weeks after Liam's passing, an 11 year old boy came into the ward.
His name was Timothy Hardwick and he was severely disabled. Tim was born with cerebral palsy, which left him nearly blind and confined to a wheelchair, cerebral palsy as a developmental disorder that affects voluntary muscle movement.
It was once thought to mainly be caused by oxygen deprivation at birth. But now there are other identified potential culprits. Ultimately, it's triggered by abnormal brain development or damage sustained to the brain as it's forming. This atypical development or damage usually happens before or during birth, but it can occur afterwards as well. In fact, it can even happen during the first years of life. Epilepsy is something that's very common in people with SEPI because the associated brain dysfunction increases the possibility of irregular nerve activity within the brain, which can lead to recurring seizures.
This problem with ongoing seizures is most common in people with cerebral palsy who have paralysis limited to one side of the body or those who are paralyzed and all four limbs since no cure is available. Parents of children with sleep have to focus on symptom management like medications to control seizures.
Tim's drug regimen had done a good job of that so far. But on March 5th, the seizures came back with a vengeance and didn't respond to his usual medication. So one of his teachers rushed him to a nearby hospital, which stabilized him. But unfortunately for Tim, that medical facility couldn't keep him overnight, so he was transferred to Grantham Hospital, his destination ward for when he got there. The nurses drew blood samples and Dr. Nonet examined him. The seizures had stopped.
A doctor, Anana ordered that Tim be put on an IV drip of Valium just in case it was all very routine. Except for one thing. Beverley Allitt was his nurse a couple hours past, with Tim laying in bed when suddenly Beverly yelled out for one of the senior nurses, Mary Rete, to check on him. Beverly said she'd seen Tim coughing as if having another seizure. But by the time Mary got there, Tim seemed fine because of his disability.
Timothy couldn't speak, but perhaps his cough was a cry for help. He had been alone with Beverly for almost an hour. Plenty of time for her to administer a lethal injection of insulin at a quarter to six. Beverly called for Mary again. This time, Tim wasn't breathing. His lips were quickly turning blue. Panicked, Mary summoned the crash team and they sprang into action. They shocked him repeatedly with a defibrillator, but his heart never restarted.
Everyone felt Beverly had done the right thing in calling for Mary. What had happened was a tragedy. But Beverly was still something of a hero.
And by claiming she'd seen the boy have a seizure, Beverly made the diagnosis simple. One source states the cause of death was a cardiac arrest of unknown origin. Another blames epilepsy and cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy in itself isn't usually fatal, but people in general with severe disability and underlying conditions are at a much higher risk of death. However, most of the associated risks are found in people with CP who are older than Tim was. If his death was truly caused by Sepi, it would likely have been the result of seizures. If they were severe enough, this outcome wouldn't be out of the question. As intense epileptic episodes have, the potential to be deadly seizures can cause pauses and breathing that may last long enough to kill someone.
This is known as a hypoxic event where a lack of oxygen intake shuts down the body's functioning. Oxygen deprivation from sleep related seizures can lead to cardiac arrest as oxygen is needed to keep the heart beating. This is because seizures caused electrical changes in the brain that may create dangerously abnormal cardiac rhythms or stop the heart altogether. Given that Tim was prone to seizures and considering how compromised he was, his death probably didn't raise many eyebrows, as tragic as it was.
However, deaths like this aren't very common, especially for those without underlying heart conditions. It's safe to assume that he didn't have a major congenital heart defect because it would have manifested in his life already and while the family accepted the death on wall.
Four people were beginning to talk, it was unusual for the war to lose more than one or two children a year.
Now, two young patients had died in only two weeks. The nurses reassured themselves that it was just an unhappy coincidence.
But Beverley Allitt was only getting started. Next time on medical murders, Beverly continues her murder spree under intense pressure as the police close in on her trail. Thanks for listening to medical murders and thanks again to Dr. Kipa for joining me today. Thank you all. Thank you very much.
For more information on Beverly Allitt, among the many sources we used, we found the books, Murder on Ward four by Nick Davies and Angel of Death killer nurse Beverly Allitt by John Eskil and Martin Sharp.
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Medical Murders is a Spotify original from podcast. It is executive produced by Max Cutler, Sound Design by Nick Johnson with production assistance by Ron Shapiro, Carly Madden, Kristen Acevedo, Jonathan Cohen, Alexander Dodgier and Joshua Kern. This episode of Medical Mergers was written by Zander Bernstein with writing assistants by Maggie Admi, fact checking by Bennett Logan and research by Chelsea Wood. Medical Matters stars Dr. David Kipa and Alastair Murden.