South Tipperary General Hospital has apologised to a 12-year old boy who was catastrophically injured at birth.

The apology was read out in the High Court as Aaron Hanrahan, who has spastic quadriplegia and cerebral palsy, settled his action against the HSE with an interim payout of €3.5m.

Counsel for the HSE, Brian Foley, turned to Aaron and his parents Marianne Cunningham and Peter Hanrahan of Alleen, Donohil, Co Tipperary, and read out the apology on behalf of the hospital. He said the hospital wished to “sincerely and unreservedly apologise for the catastrophic injuries suffered by Aaron at the time time of his birth and the tragic outcome for him and his family”.

Aaron Christopher Hanrahan had, through his mother Marianne Cunningham, sued the HSE over the circumstances of his birth at South Tipperary General Hospital in 2004.

It was claimed the baby was exposed to unnecessary risk by delivering him at a hospital which was not suitably staffed or equipped with appropriate facilities to deal with premature babies and there was a failure to take appropriate or timely actions when the (cardiotocography (CTG) trace was pathological and that the CTG trace had been discontinued when it was dangerous and unsafe to do so. There was, it was claimed, a failure to expedite the delivery by caesarian section in circumstances in which an obstetric emergency existed.

Counsel Denis McCullough told the court Ms Cunningham, whose baby was due in June, had been admitted to South Tipperary General Hospital in April. He said CTG recording of the foetal heartbeat was started at 8pm on April 18, and continued until after 10pm. It was claimed the trace from 9pm was abnormal. The CTG was recommenced after 11.30pm and was pathological but was turned off after midnight to enable the mother to sleep and restarted just before 6am. Aaron was delivered after 9am.

Counsel said if Aaron had been delivered by 1am on April 19, 2004, the degree of injury would have been lessened.

He said Aaron, who has six brothers and sisters, is confined to a wheelchair, but is a bright and cheerful boy who attends his local school. Mr McCullough said that, due to cutbacks in the health service, Aaron’s speech and language therapy was stopped two years ago and his communication skills had deteriorated since. His physiotherapy sessions were also stopped last year.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Kevin Cross wished Aaron and his family all the best. The case will come back before the court in nine years time when Aaron’s future care needs will be assessed.

Outside court, Marianne Cunningham, in a statement on behalf of herself and her partner Peter Hanrahan, said they were delighted and relieved their lengthy battle for justice had been resolved.

She said the written apology from the HSE and the hospital came before Aaron’s 12th birthday and was “a brilliant present for him to receive.”

“Even though we realise the great injustice done to our son, we as parents are fulfilled in the knowledge that all Aaron’s needs and requirements will all be provided for his entire future,” she said. “We can now look forward to a much improved, but more importantly, a much-deserved quality of life for our beautiful son.”


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