Two days before a NSW woman’s death, “blood and pus came gushing out” of the side of her hand after a body modifier reopened a surgical area, a friend has told a court.
The woman had weeks earlier had a plastic snowflake implanted between the bone and skin of the back of her hand by Brendan Leigh Russell.
“When he cut open her hand to reposition the snowflake, all this blood and pus came gushing out the side,” the friend told the NSW District Court on Monday.
“I then later witnessed that on the video (filmed by the deceased woman).”
Russell, a body modifier known by moniker BSlice Dot Com, has pleaded not guilty to the woman’s manslaughter after inserting the plastic snowflake in her hand in his parlour in a Central Coast shopping centre in March 2017.
The woman died on April 12 – two days after a follow-up in which Russell reopened the wound, washed it out and reinserted the implant.
She’d not taken up the advice of her friend to see a doctor and get antibiotics.
The day before her death, the woman looked “exhausted” and was complaining of soreness in her hand.
Her friend, who also lived next door, was so concerned, she insisted on accompanying the woman to an unrelated medical appointment “so I could make sure she was OK”.
“She had her right hand covered with her sleeve and when she pulled that sleeve back, all stitches were either in process of falling out – some had already fallen out – and the hand was weeping blood and pus,” the friend said.
Her speech became slurred that evening and she “wasn’t making much sense”.
By 1am, when the friends had a smoke and spoke from their respective verandahs, the woman’s speech improved.
But her swollen hand was now “probably three times bigger than her other hand”, the friend said, denying she was exaggerating.
“I offered to go with her to the hospital … so we could get a treatment straight away,” she told the court.
But the woman had a child staying at her home that night, and figured another friend would be needed to drive her to hospital.
“She said she didn’t want to wake (the child) and cause a fuss, she’d have a couple of painkillers and go back to bed and that if she needed me, she’d call,” the friend said.
Five hours later, the friend woke to the screams of the child and found the woman’s warm but lifeless body.
Russell’s lawyer queried if the witness’s concern at 1am was not high enough to warrant calling a taxi or an ambulance.
“I was worried enough but you can’t force someone to do something,” she replied.
“But you didn’t suggest an ambulance or a taxi?” Michal Mantaj asked.
“No,” came the reply.
The trial earlier heard from a cosmetic surgeon who believes the evidence points to the wound being infected and who says Russell’s manipulation of the hand during the follow-up procedure “would have encouraged the spread of the bug”.
“Normally”, a surgeon would remove the implant, wash out the wound, take a sample of the pus to determine what bugs were growing and start the patient on antibiotics, Ron Bezic said.
“That is OK to do, but if you’re putting pressure on the wound without any other treatment, that would make it worse,” Dr Bezic said.
Russell is also defending charges related to two other female patients.
The trial continues.
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