€9million court award for brain damaged boy born in Limerick hospital

University Maternity Hospital Limerick

A 13-year-old brain damaged boy has been awarded €9 million by the High Court over the circumstances of his birth at University Maternity Hospital Limerick (UMHL).

The court was told that Harry David Kavanagh from Castletroy cannot speak, has dyskinetic cerebral palsy, is profoundly physically disabled, requires 24-hour care and faces many challenges in life.

He sued the HSE and UMHL through his mother Olwyn Kavanagh who, along with her husband David, received a letter of apology from UL Hospitals Group chief operations officer Noreen Spillane.

In the letter, which was read to the court, the HSE and the hospital expressed “sincere apologies” to the Kavanagh family for the circumstances surrounding Harry’s birth on January 25, 2009.

“The care provided to you fell below the standard expected and I fully acknowledge the hurt and pain this has caused and the many challenges that you as a family have faced and will continue to face as a result,” Ms Spillane wrote.

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Liam Reidy SC told the court that liability was admitted and Harry had suffered a significant brain injury in utero.

There was a failure to recognise a pathological trace on the CTG monitoring of the baby’s heart rate and the brain injury occurred in the last half hour before birth.

It was claimed there was a failure to carry out any or any proper monitoring of Mrs Kavanagh and her unborn child. There was also a failure to recognise the CTG readings were suspicious and/or pathological.

It was alleged that there was also a failure to recognise a seriously abnormal foetal heart rate pattern indicating that the baby was being stressed by increasing hypoxia.

When the baby was born, he was in an unexpectedly poor condition, was discoloured and did not cry. He had no respiratory effort and required intubation and ventilation for resuscitation.

Mr Reidy said Harry’s parents had cared for him for the last 13 years and his mother had given up her career to look after her son.

He said the Kavanaghs were happy with the settlement and they wanted finality to the legal process.