Woman ‘who came back from the dead’ at Leeds hospital

John Harrison with a picture of partner Ann Saville
John Harrison with a picture of partner Ann Saville
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A WOMAN “came back from the dead” in a rare phenomenon at a Leeds hospital, an expert report has found.

But Ann Saville’s partner disputes the findings and is to take legal action over errors in her care.

St James’s Hospital bosses have now admitted John Harrison should never should have been told that his partner of 30 years had died.

The 71-year-old, who had leukaemia, lived for four months after the incident in February. She died last month.

A Serious Incident Investigation Report found there was a “delayed return of spontaneous circulation” after resuscitation was stopped.

“This is recognised as a very rare event and no scientific explanations for its occurrence have been proven.” it said.

However Mr Harrison disputes this: “They are just talking rubbish. They’re putting forward a fairytale,” he said.

Ms Saville, from Pudsey, Leeds, was diagnosed in December and admitted to the Bexley Wing after becoming ill during chemotherapy.

At 5.15am on February 22, Ms Saville was found collapsed and the crash team called, who carried out CPR for 30 minutes.

As three doctors could not find a pulse, resuscitation was stopped.

One had responsibility for verifying Mrs Saville’s death, and would normally have checked her again after 20 minutes, but was called to an urgent incident.

Mr Harrison says he was told by a nurse that his partner had died, but when he went into her room to say goodbye, found her still taking breaths.

Nurses said this was an involuntary response but Mr Harrison questioned this and a doctor was called back, who then found a pulse.

Ms Saville then improved, though she had suffered irreversible brain damage.

She was eventually transferred to Chapel Allerton Hospital and then Wheatfields Hospice in Headingley when her leukaemia returned. She died in July.

Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust’s report found a nurse should have assessed her when an “early warning” score was noted, a consultant should have been called earlier and the trust had no protocol in place to verify or confirm death.

It says the return of circulation after CPR stops – sometimes called the Lazarus Syndrome – is very rare but well-reported in medical journals.

But Mr Harrison, who has instructed solicitors, said: “It’s rubbish. There’s no such thing as the Lazarus Syndrome. It’s a myth.

“They are trying to cover it up with fancy jargon and well-worded phrases.”

Dr David Jackson, clinical director of the Leeds Cancer Centre, passed on their sincere condolences.

“The report acknowledges that while the clinical care we provided was appropriate, there are areas where the trust needs to make improvements in our procedures following a cardiac arrest and how we communicate with families during and in the aftermath of such sudden and tragic events. We will act on these.”

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