€1.4m for ‘star of the show’ Alex

Alex Butler is tetraplegic. Her physical disability means her body can be like jelly and her limbs are stiff. She gets around in a wheelchair.

€1.4m for ‘star of the show’ Alex

All as a result of the injuries she suffered at birth at Waterford Regional Hospital.

If she had been born 10 to 12 minutes earlier, she might never have seen the inside of High Court No 29 and her parents would not have had to embark on a tough legal battle.

The girl was pretty in pink yesterday as that eight-year legal battle with the HSE over the circumstances of Alex’s birth came to an end.

Her case was described as tragic by her counsel, Liam Reidy, who said Alex’s mother had gone private for the birth of her first baby.

But on the night Sonya Butler was admitted to Waterford Regional Hospital, he said, the three dedicated publicly appointed consultant obstetricians were on holiday and a locum consultant obstetrician was in charge.

In a statement last night, solicitors for the hospital claimed that this was incorrect, and only one of the obstetricians was on holiday.

Earlier, Waterford Regional Hospital apologised to Alex and her parents, Sonya and John Butler, of Kilmacleague, Dunmore East, Co Waterford, for injuries suffered at her birth on Apr 12, 2005.

The apology was read out as part of the settlement of Alex’s action for damages against the HSE — involving a €1.4m interim payment.

“Waterford Regional Hospital sincerely regrets the tragic consequences their failings have caused to both Alex and to her parents John and Sonya Butler,” it said.

As a result of the payout, Alex now has a chance to achieve her potential, which Mr Justice Sean Ryan heard was very high — she has the capacity to go to university and live independently when she is older.

“It is a real tragedy,” Mr Reidy said. “Alex is the star of the show.”

He told the court Mrs Butler spent a year at the Peto Institute in Hungary to make sure her daughter reaches her maximum physical capacity. John Butler worked 10-hour days to fund the treatment.

After the case, Mrs Butler said: “We have an opportunity to start Alex’s life. We want to thank everybody that helped us over the last eight years. She has been amazing but she deserves so much more.”

As the Butlers walked from the court, everybody realised Alex is a very lucky girl. In her mother’s words to the High Court: “She is our life.”

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