At the High Court today a six-year-old boy has been awarded an €18m compensation settlement in relation to the injuries he sustained after being deprived of oxygen at the time of his birth at the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin.
The defendant in the legal action, the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) issued an official apology to the young boy, who now has cerebral palsy, due to the failures and mistakes that were made as he was being delivered.
The young boy in question, Fionn Feeley, suffers with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, is unable to communicate verbally and must have care in place at all times.
A letter of apology was read out in the High Court as Fionn Feely settled his legal action against the hospital for €18m. The letter to the Feelys, which was read to the court, was from the Master of the NMH, Professor Shane Higgins.
It said: “On behalf of the National Maternity Hospital I wish to sincerely apologise for the shortcomings in care during Mrs Feely’s labour and delivery in April 2015 and to Fionn for his devastating injuries. We do not underestimate how difficult and traumatic it has been for you and your family and acknowledge the challenges that you have faced on a daily basis since that time and we are truly sorry.”
Instructed by solicitor Lyndy Cantillon and Senior Counsel Liam Reidy the boy’s family informed the Judge that they were arguing that Fionn’s delivery should have been completed three hours earlier. They added that fighting for Fionna to have justice in relation to the mistakes that were made has changed them considerably.
At the High Court Mr Reidy said was his clients’ contention the insult to his brain was towards the end of the labour. He said: “We say, if he had been delivered in accordance with proper standards, there would not be brain damage.”
Fionn, through his father, took the legal action for birth injury compensation against the National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street, Dublin, in relation to the circumstances of his birth in April 2015.
The legal action alleged that there was a failure in relation to the steps that were taken during the pregnancy and labour of Mrs Feely along with a shortcoming in relation to monitoring the baby’s foetal heart rate.
Finally there was a claim that there was a failure to identify and address the symptoms or signs of foetal distress and a failure to consider a caesarean section delivery due to the circumstance of elevated maternal temperature and pathological CTG trace.
The NMH accepted that a breach of duty had occurred in relation to Fionn’s labour and delivery.
After the compensation award was approved, a statement read outside the Four Courts by Fionn’s father Stephen said that over the last six years they have known sadness, worry and grief on a daily basis, but their son is much more than his diagnosis.”
He said Fionn is happy, funny, clever, mischievous, playful, inquisitive and, above all, loving.
He said: “We are his world, and he is ours. Our hope now is that we finally have the opportunity to enjoy just being parents to Fionn, as opposed to primarily being his carers and then we will also have a chance to give him absolutely everything he needs and deserves to get the most out of his life.”
He continued: “There has been no respite from our grief, no respite from our daily struggles and worries, no respite from the what-ifs and whys and the thoughts of what could have been. No amount can account for what Fionn has lost or ever bring back the child that Fionn should have been, but this money will go towards giving him a future he can look forward to and thrive in.”
Earlier the boy’s parents had informed the court, through their legal representation, that “like many people anticipating the birth of their first child, our hopes and dreams were wrapped up in one little person. Those dreams were shattered, and it is difficult to describe the devastation we experienced. The joy of holding our first-born child in our arms was taken from us. It was supposed to be the happiest day of our lives, it became our worst.”
As he was giving his final approval for the birth injury compensation settlement, Justice Paul Coffey praised Feelys and said they were exceptional parents to their young son.