Apologise to cerebral palsy girl, HSE urged

Grace Orchard, who has dyskinetic cerebral palsy, leaving court yesterday. Picture: Courtpix

The HSE should apologise to a little girl who has been left with dyskinetic cerebral palsy after her birth at a Cork hospital, her counsel told the High Court yesterday.

Grace Orchard’s life has in every respect been destroyed and there was an “appalling, poor handling” of her delivery at St Finbarr’s Maternity Hospital, Cork, Senior Counsel Dr John O’Mahony said.

“This is a tragedy for Grace,” he told Mr Justice Daniel Herbert, who has been asked to assess damages in the case after the HSE admitted liability.

Grace Orchard, 7, Ferndale, Carrigaline, Co Cork, has through her mother Deirdre O’Callaghan sued the HSE over the handling and management of her birth at St Finbarr’s in February 2006.

Grace, it was claimed, suffered a severe insult and trauma during the course of delivery and suffered considerable distress, pain and damage, as a result of which she is left with dyskinetic cerebral palsy.

Opening the case, Dr John O’Mahony, SC, said Grace has been left in a catastrophic position and the HSE should apologise for the handling of her birth on February 23, 2006. They had denied liability in the case up to two weeks ago, he said.

Grace’s mother had been admitted to St Finbarr’s Hospital on February 22, 2006, and the drug syntocinon, which is used to induce labour, was given. Counsel said the syntocinon was administered inappropriately and there were four instrumental attempts, including a vacuum cup, to deliver Grace over a 41-minute period in the early hours of February 23, 2006. Grace was delivered by forceps at 2.25am.

“There was an appalling, poor handling of the delivery of Grace,” counsel said, which had catastrophic results for the baby.

Four efforts at instrumental delivery were excessive and Grace’s mother should have had a caesarean section. It had very serious consequences for Grace, who has dsykinetic cerebral palsy. After she was born, he said Grace had to be resuscitated and had very bad bruising on the head, forehead and face and she was very seriously traumatised during the birth process.

Her devoted parents Deirdre and Jason, he said, had taken every step they could to help their daughter and even brought her to a centre in New York for a special form of physiotherapy.

Grace is in first class in mainstream school but the services available to her have been dramatically reduced and cut back. Her balance is impaired and she has to use a wheelchair.

“In every respect, Grace’s life has been destroyed . She will need technical supports. Her entire life has been drastically reduced in quality. This is a tragedy for Grace,” he said

The case before Mr Justice Daniel Herbert continues.

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