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Vasilli Kalisperas

May 21, 2013

A healthy baby has been left deaf, blind and locked inside his body because a trainee midwife did not recognise early signs of jaundice.


Vasilli Kalisperas from Malvern in Worcestershire had a condition called kernicterus, which is treatable with light therapy or a blood transfusion.


But the trainee who visited the family reassured his parents by telling them to place their son near a window.


Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust has admitted liability.


Kernicterus is a condition caused by bilirubin, a yellowish substance found in bile.


Vasilli, who was born on 18 May last year, had a fairly common enzyme deficiency called G6PD which can speed up the process of kernicterus.

Cardiac arrest


When this is not removed from the blood it builds up in the body and can cross the brain barrier where it eventually causes brain damage.


His parents, Elena and Michael, said by the time their son was taken to hospital two days later, his bilirubin level, which causes the skin to turn yellow, was off the chart.


The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines show bilirubin should be checked in all babies who have jaundice within 72 hours of birth.


Although the trust claimed it was normal practice for student midwives to visit patients on their own when they are in their final year of training, it said a new system meant no student midwife could make home visits alone unless their supervisor was confident they were fully competent.


The family were told by the hospital that in Vasilli’s case there had also been issues with the trainee’s previous placement.


His mother said that when he arrived at hospital on 20 May he was given phototherapy but went into cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated.


She said: “When I saw him like that I just broke down.


“The amount of tubes that he had, I thought that he was not going to survive.


“I can’t put it into words. I would not want anyone to go through that.”


His father Michael said recent tests showed his son was completely deaf and may now have microcephaly, which means his brain will grow more slowly than his body, leaving him physically deformed.


“I see children who have passed milestones and it just upsets me so much to see that he has lost so much,” he said.

‘Deeply sorry’

Eddie Jones, from JMW Solicitors who specialise in Kernicterus cases, said children like Vasilli can make a full recovery if treated quickly.


The law company has dealt with several similar cases and believes they may be increasing because mothers and babies are being sent home earlier.


“There’s not the degree of monitoring in hospital over a period of days that there was several years ago,” he said.


“It is essential therefore that community midwives are vigilant.”


The trust has admitted liability and said it was “deeply sorry for the mistakes made in Vasilli’s care”.


In the future, Vasilli’s family will receive a multi-million payout that cannot be determined until the full extent of his disabilities are known.

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