UK doctors concerned about Skripals' long-term health after poisoning

Medical staff who treated a Russian former spy and his daughter ...

Posted: May 29, 2018 2:38 PM
Updated: May 29, 2018 2:38 PM

Medical staff who treated a Russian former spy and his daughter for poisoning by a nerve agent in the UK have told of how they initially feared the pair would die, and have said they are uncertain over their long-term health.

In an interview with BBC Two's Newsnight program, staff from Salisbury District Hospital in southern England spoke publicly for the first time about the poisoning of 66-year-old Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia Skripal, who have both since been discharged.

The UK government says the pair were poisoned with a military-grade Novichok nerve agent. A police officer who attended the scene was also affected, although less seriously.

Salisbury hospital's medical director, Dr. Christine Blanshard, said staff would need to continue supporting the pair. When asked of their prognosis, she responded: "I think the honest answer is that we don't know. We have a total world experience of treating three patients for the effects of Novichok poisoning, and I think it's safe to say that we're still learning."

Several staff members described their shock at the nature of the case, which became the subject of a diplomatic crisis between Russia and the UK. Britain openly blamed Moscow for poisoning the pair and expelled 23 Russian diplomats from the country, while many other nations did the same to show their support for the UK.

"I spoke to the nurse in charge, and it was this conversation I really could never have imagined in my wildest imagination as having with anyone," said Dr. Duncan Murray, the hospital's senior intensive care consultant.

"Essentially the story of a known Russian spy having been admitted to hospital in pretty unusual circumstances."

The Skripals were found slumped on a bench in the cathedral city of Salisbury on March 4. When they were found, medical staff suspected an opioid overdose, Newsnight reported.

"We were just told that there were two patients down in the emergency department who were critically unwell and they would be coming up to the unit," said ward sister Sarah Clark, who was on duty the night the Skripals were admitted.

She said that as staff tried to establish what might have happened to the Skripals, they became worried that they too could be affected. She said staff had not "taken any extra precautions in terms of protecting ourselves" at that point.

Nursing director Lorna Wilkinson said that staff became more worried when the police officer, Nick Bailey, was also admitted with similar symptoms to the Skripals'.

"There was a real concern as to how big this could get," she said.

Evidence showed 'they would not survive'

When police established that Sergei Skripal had been a spy, they told the hospital that he and his daughter may have been poisoned.

"When we first were aware this was a nerve agent, we were expecting them not to survive," said Dr. Stephen Jukes, an intensive care consultant.

"We would try all our therapies. We would ensure the best clinical care. But all the evidence was there that they would not survive."

But the pair survived thanks to a combination of factors -- a quick arrival in intensive care, heavy sedation to limit any brain damage and the expertise of those at the nearby Porton Down laboratory, according to hospital staff.

Dr. Jukes said new approaches were taken to existing types of treatment, and that the speed at which the Skripals recovered was something of a surprise that he could not quite explain.

Last week, Yulia Skripal made her fist public appearance since being hospitalized. The 33-year-old spent 20 days in a coma before she was released in April and taken to a safe place.

"We are so lucky to have both survived this attempted assassination," she said in a video recorded in an undisclosed location.

"I don't want to describe the details, but the clinical treatment was invasive, painful and depressing. Our recovery has been slow and extremely painful."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 34574

Reported Deaths: 2134
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9853578
Lake3616190
Allen161869
Cass15877
Elkhart132228
St. Joseph127434
Hendricks116971
Hamilton115993
Johnson1105108
Madison58659
Porter53928
Bartholomew51135
Clark50441
LaPorte43323
Howard40828
Tippecanoe4023
Jackson3891
Delaware38537
Shelby37322
Hancock33827
Floyd31839
Boone31535
Morgan27724
Vanderburgh2742
Montgomery24117
White2358
Noble23221
Clinton2321
Decatur22431
Grant21122
Dubois1993
Harrison19422
Henry18211
Greene16924
Vigo1698
Dearborn16821
Monroe16612
Warrick16628
Lawrence16324
Miami1401
Putnam1377
Kosciusko1351
Jennings1304
Orange12822
Scott1203
Franklin1108
Ripley1096
Marshall1082
Carroll932
Daviess8816
Steuben832
Wayne825
LaGrange812
Wabash782
Newton7810
Fayette777
Jasper671
Washington521
Jay520
Clay511
Fulton491
Rush472
Randolph473
Pulaski460
Jefferson451
Whitley423
Starke393
DeKalb371
Sullivan361
Owen351
Brown331
Perry330
Wells320
Benton300
Huntington282
Knox280
Tipton251
Blackford252
Crawford240
Fountain212
Switzerland200
Spencer201
Parke180
Gibson172
Posey160
Adams151
Ohio130
Warren121
Martin110
Vermillion100
Union90
Pike60
Unassigned0167

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 120260

Reported Deaths: 5390
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook779253642
Lake8331291
DuPage7707373
Kane6338178
Will5566276
Winnebago225155
McHenry156672
St. Clair113782
Kankakee91045
Kendall79819
Rock Island65824
Champaign6407
Madison58060
Boone45217
DeKalb4164
Sangamon35129
Jackson28610
Randolph2704
Peoria2339
McLean22013
Ogle2063
Stephenson2062
Macon19319
Clinton18617
Union15411
LaSalle15313
Whiteside14013
Iroquois1324
Coles12715
Out of IL1181
Warren1170
Jefferson10116
Knox1000
Grundy982
Monroe9512
McDonough8811
Unassigned850
Lee811
Cass730
Tazewell735
Henry690
Williamson672
Pulaski560
Marion500
Jasper457
Macoupin452
Adams441
Perry410
Vermilion401
Montgomery391
Morgan361
Christian354
Livingston342
Jo Daviess320
Douglas280
Jersey241
Fayette213
Ford201
Menard200
Woodford192
Mason180
Washington180
Hancock170
Mercer170
Shelby161
Bureau151
Carroll152
Schuyler130
Bond121
Franklin120
Clark110
Crawford110
Fulton110
Moultrie110
Piatt110
Brown100
Cumberland100
Logan100
Wayne91
Alexander80
Henderson80
Johnson80
Effingham71
Massac70
Saline70
Greene50
Marshall50
De Witt40
Lawrence40
Richland30
Stark30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Hamilton20
Wabash20
White20
Calhoun10
Edgar10
Hardin10
Pike10
Pope10
Putnam10
Terre Haute
Few Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 73°
Robinson
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 74°
Indianapolis
Few Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 70°
Rockville
Scattered Clouds
68° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 68°
Casey
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 71°
Brazil
Few Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 73°
Marshall
Few Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 73°
A warm up on the way.
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Monday Afternoon Weather

Image

Washington Catholic High School

Image

Rules of the roadway will be different for Indiana drivers, new hands-free law in place

Image

Monday: Sunny, warmer. High: 78

Image

Exotic Feline Rescue Center special events canceled

Image

Indiana bowling alleys still closed, business owner prepares

Image

Teen killed in weekend accident remembered at vigil

Image

Duke Energy saving programs

Image

Staying cool this season

Image

Indiana state parks to stay closed

WTHI Events