Girl who Lost Mother to Breast Cancer after Birth Awarded €900,000 Compensation

In the High Court a nine-year-old girl has settled for a wrongful death of family member action for €900,000.

Eugene Gleeson SC , acting on behalf of Gracie Hamilton informed the Court that she Garcia was delivered at 28 weeks and five days gestation due to the fact that her mother Melissa was suffering from Stage 4 breast cancer. He informed the the young mother died of breast cancer after two missed opportunities to diagnose the disease.

In a previous compensation action in 2015, Gracie’s father, Séamus Hamilton and his two other daughters Jessica (now 15) and Darcey (now 11) settled their High Court actions for €1.35 million in relation to the same incident. Melissa was just 34 years old a the time of her death on September 8, 2011, just eight days after the birth of Gracie. Melissa has only been diagnosed with breast cancer two weeks previous to her death.

In the earlier legal action Letterkenny General Hospital issued an unreserved apology that Melissa Hamilton’s cancer was not diagnosed and dealt with at an earlier stage. The letter, which was read out in court expressed “deepest and sincere regrets” on the devastating loss of Melissa to Seamus and his daughters. It read: “I realise no words can make up for the loss that you and your children have experienced and our thoughts are with you all in these difficult times.”

The Health Service Executive (HSE) it was alleged had been responsible for failings in the the control, management and operation of the Breast Centre North West triple assessment clinic in Letterkenny General Hospital. In addition to this it had a duty to take all reasonable steps to safeguard Mrs Hamilton’s life and a duty to those close to her including Gracie.

It was further claimed there was a failure to diagnose Mrs Hamilton’s cancer at an earlier treatable stage and negligent delay in achieving a cancer diagnosis. Liability was accepted in the case.

Mr Gleeson SC informed presiding Judge Justice Kevin Cross that  Gracie suffers with congenital sensory neural deafness and has undergone a nine-hour surgical procedure in order to insert an implant in her ear to try and address this. Gracie, he informed the Judge, is doing very well at school but her options for a career in future will be severely restricted. Gracie Hamilton , Sallywood, Killygordon,Lifford, Co Donegal took the legal action against the HSE via her father Seamus Hamilton.

Mr Hamilton, speaking in court, said that Gracie is a “fighter” and that, while the settlement would not bring back his wife, he was satisfied with the outcome. He added: “We are overcoming the hurdles.”

Mr Justice Kevin Cross, in approving the cancer misdiagnosis settlement, said he was delighted to hear Gracie is doing so well.

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