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Beverley Allitt, also known as the "Angel of Death," is one of Britain's most notorious female serial killers.
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On March 22, 1991, 2-year-old victim Yik Hung Chan turned blue and appeared in considerable distress when Allitt raised the alarm, but he responded well to oxygen. Another attack resulted in his transferal to the larger hospital in Nottingham, where he recovered. His symptoms were attributed to a fractured skull, the result of a fall.
Allitt next turned her attention to twins Katie and Becky Phillips, just 2 months old,
who were kept in for observation as a result of their premature delivery. A bout of gastro-enteritis brought Becky into Ward 4 on April 1, 1991, when Allitt took over her care. Two days later, Allit raised the alarm, claiming that Becky appeared hypoglycemic and cold to the touch, but no ailment was found. Baby Becky was sent home with her mother.
During the night, she went into convulsions and cried out in apparent pain but, when summoned, a doctor suggested she had colic. The parents kept her in their bed for observation, and she died during the night. Despite an autopsy, pathologists could find no clear
cause of death.
Becky's surviving twin, Katie, was admitted to Grantham as a precaution and, unfortunately for her, Allitt was again in attendance. It wasn't long before she was again summoning a resuscitation team to revive baby Katie, who had stopped breathing.
Efforts to revive Katie were successful, but two days later she suffered a similar attack, which resulted in the collapse of her lungs. Following another revival effort, she was transferred to Nottingham, where it was found that five of her ribs were broken, in addition to having suffered serious brain damage as a result of her oxygen deprivation.
In a supreme twist of irony, Katie's mother, Sue Phillips, was so grateful to Allitt for saving her baby's life that she asked her to be Katie's godmother. Allit accepted willingly, despite having inflicted partial paralysis, cerebral palsy and sight and hearing damage on the infant.
Four more victims followed, but the high incidence of unexplained attacks in otherwise healthy patients, and Allitt's attendance during these attacks, finally caused suspicions to be raised at the hospital. Allit's violent spree was brought to an end with the death of 15-month-old Claire Peck, on April 22, 1991, an asthmatic who required a breathing tube. While in Allit's care for only a few minutes, the infant suffered a heart attack. The resuscitation team revived her successfully but, when again alone in Allit's presence, baby Claire suffered a second attack, from which she could not be revived.
Although an autopsy indicated that Claire had died from natural causes, an inquiry was initiated by a consultant at the hospital, Dr. Nelson Porter, who was alarmed by the high number of cardiac arrests over the previous two months on Ward 4. An airborne virus was initially suspected, but nothing was found. A test that revealed a high level of potassium in baby Claire's blood resulted in the police being summoned 18 days later. Her exhumation discovered traces of Lignocaine in her system, a drug used during cardiac arrest, but never given to a baby.
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