A doctor who carried out heart surgery on a baby girl who was one of four infants to die at a leading Oxford hospital in a matter of months has told an inquest there were no problems within the unit at the time.
Nathalie Lo was 23-days-old when she died at the John Radcliffe Hospital following an operation to treat a complex congenital condition only identified after her birth, the coroner was told.
Children’s heart operations were suspended at the unit in March after three other babies subsequently died. They had all been treated by the same surgeon, Caner Salih.
An NHS review recommended earlier this month that no more paediatric cardiac surgery should be carried out at the hospital, concluding it was the least likely out of 11 centres in England to meet new quality standards.
Nathalie died in the early hours of the morning of December 22 after Mr Salih performed a procedure to insert a shunt in her heart to allow blood to be pumped to her lungs properly.
He told an inquest in Oxford that although there had been a postponement of her operation due to equipment, on the day of the operation everything was in place.
And he told the inquest, which was attended by Nathalie’s parents, that he would not have treated the baby any differently in hindsight.
Recording a narrative verdict, coroner Nicholas Gardiner said there was no evidence Nathalie died because of her surgery - which, the inquest heard, was assessed by medics at the hospital as having a 95% success rate.
He said: “Although I suspect the degree of risk was explained to them (Nathalie’s parents), if someone tells us there is a 95% chance of success I think we all assume we are going to be in the 95%.
“Sadly, that’s not true. Somebody is going to be in the 5%. It does appear to me that the shunt was an appropriate surgical procedure and, so far as I can tell, properly carried out.”