“They are now at the beginning of the end of a harrowing, cruel and torturous journey.”
Those were the words of Rebecca Price and Patrick Kiely’s solicitor outside the Four Courts on Wednesday as the couple settled an action over the termination of their healthy pregnancy after being wrongly advised the baby had a fatal foetal abnormality.
Rebecca Price, clutching her partner's hand, shuddered and fought back tears as their solicitor Caoimhe Haughey pointed out that the son they call Christopher Joseph would have been two years old this summer.
Now the couple want to meet with Health Minister Stephen Donnelly as soon as possible to work with him on ways to ensure what they called “ this never event” never happens again.
“I am here today on behalf of Rebecca, Pat and their son Christopher Joseph Kiely. It has taken two years, three months and nine days to get to this point for this couple and their son. Christopher’s voice has finally been heard and vindicated arising from the full admission of liability at the eleventh hour,” Ms Haughey read from a statement.
She said Rebecca and Pat made it absolutely clear in early March of 2019 they would only have considered the advice to end their pregnancy if their baby had no chance of survival.
The statement said the guidelines co-authored by the hospital and clinical defendants in this tragedy – to accompany the implementation of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act, 2018 – were not followed and their baby, whom they named Christopher Joseph Kiely, was wrongly diagnosed with a condition known as Edwards syndrome, trisomy 18.
It is now accepted and acknowledged that “Christopher was taken away from Rebecca and Pat” as a result of the incorrect interpretation of genetic tests “compounded by subsequent catastrophically incorrect medical advice,” the statement said.
It added: “Nothing will ever take away the interminable sadness and grief which Rebecca and Pat live with every day. However, following further protracted negotiations overnight and today a resolution has been reached.
“For the sake of maternal and infant health care in our country Rebecca and Pat are calling for the immediate cessation of the current practice of not awaiting the results of chorionic villus karyotyping analysis in all cases where genetic conditions are suspected in the presence of a normal scan.”
The couple also thanked their families and their legal team for their support.
After the settlement was announced in the High Court, Mr Justice Paul Coffey extended his sympathy to the couple and said it was a case “which had at its heart a human tragedy of very great proportions".