Kinsale woman whose baby suffered brain injury after birth sues for nervous shock

Little Jack who has cerebral palsy settled his action against the HSE over his care after his birth at Cork University Maternity Hospital with two interim payments totalling €2.6m.
Kinsale woman whose baby suffered brain injury after birth sues for nervous shock

Jacinta Collins with Justin Hegarty, parents of Jack Hegarty, outside the Four Courts in 2016. She is claiming she suffered PTSD as a result of what happened after her son’s birth. Photo: Collins Courts

A mother whose baby collapsed and suffered a brain injury while on her breast after birth at Cork University Maternity Hospital has sued for nervous shock in the High Court.

Jacinta Collins told the court she asked was her baby Jack Hegarty “breathing at all” and was told he was “just snuggling in” but later there was panic as attempts were made to resuscitate the newborn.

The 44-year-old Cork mother, who is currently living in the US so her now six-year-old son can access certain therapies, is claiming she suffered PTSD as a result of what happened after her son’s birth.

Little Jack who has cerebral palsy and can only use a few words to communicate previously settled his action against the HSE over his care after his birth at the Cork hospital with two interim settlement payments totalling €2.6m. Next year the High Court will decide on the boy’s future care needs.

At the ruling of the boy’s settlement the court heard a midwife was required to hold faulty lighting in place as a suturing procedure was carried out on Ms Collins after Jack’s birth. A faulty mechanism in the bed along with a malfunctioning stirrup holding Ms Collins’s leg also meant delay in the suturing procedure, the court heard.

The HSE admitted liability in Jack’s case and the court was previously told a report following an inquiry had highlighted deficiencies in the equipment and the HSE had also apologised to the family.

Today's remote hearing

Jack’s mother, Jacinta Collins from Kinsale, Cork, told the High Court today in a remote hearing of her action that she remembered when her son Jack was born, saying hello to him and he looked right up at her.

“It was perfect. I did not know if it was a boy or a girl. I was happy he was there, and he was healthy. He was placed on my breast.” She said she was told she needed two “cosmetic sutures”. 

The stirrup holding her left foot, she said, broke and she had to try to hold up her leg as the suturing took place. The lamp being used, she said, was flickering on and off and the baby’s father Justin Hegarty offered his pocket keyring light.

She said she just wanted to get back to enjoying her baby.

“I said to the midwife is he breathing at all. She said he is just snuggling in. I trusted what she said,’ she told Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

At the opening of the case, the mother’s counsel, Oonah McCrann SC instructed by Ernest Cantillon Solicitors, told the court Ms Collins accepted the reassurance and this later “tortured her.” In evidence, Ms Collins said when the midwife took the baby he was “ all white” and there was “panic and screaming and shouting.” 

Ms Collins said as attempts were made to resuscitate her son she was praying for him to be saved.

“It seemed to go on and on. I was praying, then a nurse said they had a heartbeat.” She said her son was taken to ICU and it was three hours before they got further news on their baby.

She said they were told Jack was very sick and their family were later brought in to say goodbye to him.

The family, she said, moved to California in the US in 2017 so Jack could access certain therapies.

Jacinta Collins' allegations

Jacinta Collins (aged 44) a pharmaceutical scientist from Ardbrack, Kinsale, Co. Cork, has sued the HSE claiming she has suffered post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of what happened after the birth on December 10, 2014.

She has claimed she was allegedly positioned in a forward leaning position contrary to good practice while breastfeeding as a repair was carried out to the perineum and that a situation was allegedly caused to arise where the baby suffered a severe ischaemic encephalopathy.

It is further claimed there was an alleged failure to note or respond to warnings from the mother regarding the condition of the baby.

The HSE has admitted it was in breach of duty in not adequately monitoring the baby after his birth and up to the onset of sudden neonatal collapse but it has denied all claims in relation to nervous shock.

The case before Mr Justice Kevin Cross continues tomorrow.

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