Doctors treating Russians Sergei and Yulia Skripal, after the duo was poisoned by a chemical nerve agent, thought the pair’s chance of survival slim, the BBC reported on Tuesday.
The Skripals were taken to Salisbury District Hospital on March 4 after the father-daughter pair were found unconscious on a park bench in Salisbury, England. Doctors hypothesized several scenarios — from opioid abuse to the start of an unknown epidemic — before pinpointing a nerve agent as the cause of The Skripals’ illness. (RELATED: Ex-Russian Spy Poisoned With Nerve Agent, British Police Say)
Sergei is a former-Russian military officer convicted of selling Russian state secrets to Britain.
“When we first were aware this was a nerve agent, we were expecting them not to survive,” hospital intensive care consultant Dr. Stephen Jukes told BBC. “We would try all our therapies. We would ensure the best clinical care. But all the evidence was there that they would not survive.”
Salisbury District Hospital staff were advised by experts from the nearby military research facility at Porton Down, where Specialist Response Teams are dispatched in cases like The Skripals’.
Defying the odds, both Skripals’ survived and were discharged — Yulia on April 9 and Sergei more than a month later on May 18. Each was taken to a secured location upon release, though it is unknown whether they were taken to the same location. Eventually, they will be relocated to the U.S. under new identities, according to the BBC.
The chemical attack is believed to have been carried out by agents of the Kremlin, Russia’s government headquarters. The nerve agent used is “military grade” and developed by Russia.
The Russian government was responsible for the attack, either directly or indirectly, British Prime Minister Theresa May said in a March speech at the House of Commons. (RELATED: British PM Says It’s ‘Highly Likely’ That Russia Is Behind Nerve Agent Attack)
“Either this was a direct act by the Russian state against our country, or the Russian government lost control of its potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others,” May said.
The Skripal attack brought British-Russian tensions to a severity not seen since the Cold War. The Kremlin has denied any involvement in the attack. May expelled nearly two dozen undeclared Russian spies acting as diplomats from Britain in March. (RELATED: Britain Gives 23 Undeclared Russian Spies A Week To Get Out Of Country)
Sergei was released from a Russian prison in 2010 as part of a prisoner swap and relocated to Britain. The FBI turned over 10 soviet spies to the Kremlin as part of the exchange.
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