Girl, 13, settles damages action for €5.2m

A 13-year-old girl who is severely brain damaged and cannot walk or talk has settled for €5.2m her High Court action for damages arising out of the injuries she allegedly sustained at her birth at Cavan General Hospital.

Mr Justice Michael Moriarty said in all the medical negligence cases he had dealt with that of Sarah Reilly is “the most catastrophic”.

The judge praised Sarah’s parents, Paul and Marie Reilly, and said their care and effort to enhance the quality of life for their daughter was “nothing less than heroic”.

Sarah, the court heard, is severely ill, practically blind and can only feed through a tube and is quadriplegic.

Outside court, the Reillys parents described their daughter as “one in a million ” but said they were disappointed there was no apology as part of the settlement.

Sarah Reilly, Lisdrumskeagh, Shercock, Co Cavan, had, through her mother, Marie Reilly, sued the HSE over alleged negligence at the time of her birth by elective caesarean section on July 31, 2001, at Cavan General Hospital.

The High Court was told yesterday the settlement was €4.75m and an earlier payment of €500,000 was without an admission of liability.

It was claimed that Mrs Reilly was admitted to Cavan General Hospital for a caesarean section on July 31, 2001. It was alleged the baby was exposed to the risk of damage or injury by the alleged administration before the caesarean section of the drug Syntometrine, which is normally given after a delivery.

There was, it was a claimed, a failure to recognise that Syntometrine should never be administered to a woman who is pregnant or in labour, as its sole use in obstetric practice is to ensure contraction of the uterus once the baby has been delivered.

It was further claimed there was a period of sustained contraction of the uterus, which resulted in baby Sarah being held tight in the womb, leading to severe hypoxic ischaemia and causing Sarah to suffer irreversible brain damage.

As a result of the alleged wrongful administration of Syntometrine, it was claimed, the baby was exposed to severe trauma.

All the claims were denied and it was claimed that Syntometrine could not have been administered prior to delivery.

Senior counsel Denis McCullough told the High Court the Reilly’s case was that nothing else but the administration of Syntometrine beforehand explained what happened and a delivery which should have been so simple was so difficult.

He said it was “a brutal and excessively traumatic delivery”.

Outside court, Mrs Reilly said: “No amount of money will make up for what was done to us. Hopefully we will now be able to get everything she deserves, everything she needs. An apology would have been nice.”

Mr Reilly said it was a long haul but it was a relief the court battle was over. “Unfortunately we didn’t get an apology,” he said.


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