Sydney newborn John Ghanem could not have survived a gas mix at the hospital, the study says

A pathologist has told an investigation that there was no chance that a newborn survived a rare gas compound at a Sydney hospital after being administered nitric oxide instead of oxygen for almost an hour.

John Ghanem was born at Bankstown Lidcombe Hospital in July 2016, where an operation theater’s gas pipe was mistakenly labeled, leading to a bungle discovered during installation work.

An inquest into his death has heard that he lived for just under an hour despite attempts by medical staff who unknowingly administered him the wrong gas.

Koert de Waal, a neonatal intensive care consultant at John Hunter Children’s Hospital, compiled a chronology that highlighted important events during John’s treatment.

Today, he agreed that the newborn would have received nitric oxide in the “great period” between when he was moved to a unit that manages the gas, three or four minutes after birth, and when he died 57 minutes later.

Nitric oxide was confused with oxygen after the gas pipes of an operating theater were incorrectly labeled.(



Nicole Graf, a pathologist at Westmead Children’s Hospital who performed an autopsy on John, said the administration of the gas would never be necessary to revive a newborn.

“Suppose John received medical laughter gas from the gas that supplied the newborn resuscitaire for a period exceeding 50 minutes before he was pronounced life-dead,” said adviser who assisted the investigation, Donna Ward, during her investigation.

“Was there any chance that a newborn would survive this exposure?”

Dr. Graf replied: ‘No’.

“I do not see how it could survive because the nitrous oxide would displace oxygen, the baby would end up with a very low oxygen content in the blood,” she said.

“Do I have experience, have I seen it before? No.”

Sonya Ghanem speaks to the media
John was the fourth child of Sonya and Youssef Ghanem. (

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Asked by Mrs Ward if it was because the situation was “so rare”, Dr. Graph.

The investigation has heard baby John’s condition at birth was poor, possibly due to complications with the umbilical cord and was delivered by caesarean section.

Dr. Graf noted that there were signs of bilateral congenital bronchopneumonia, which meant that there was probably an infection in the lungs.

But Dr. de Waal said statistics around his gases, PH and blood were “in a very clinically acceptable range”, suggesting that there should have been the prospect of a successful resuscitation.

a man goes into court
Christopher Turner has previously expressed his “deepest grief” over the gas mixture.(

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Christopher Turner, a contractor for gas company BOC that has not tested the pipes for cross-contamination during 2015 work at the theater, has previously been fined $ 100,000 over the bungalow.

The NSW District Court heard that the labeling defect on the gas pipes existed from 1996.

The experts’ contribution on Friday brought the evidence in the study to a conclusion.

More submissions from the parties are expected to take place on Thursday.


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