Friday 9 December 2016

Boy who suffered brain injury after birth but 'defied all odds' awarded €1.7m interim payment

Published 25/10/2016 | 18:44

Jacinta Collins and Justin Hegarty, parents of Jack Hegarty pictured speaking to the media outside the Four Courts after the High Court approved a €1.7m interim settlement on behalf of Jack.Pic: Collins Courts
Jacinta Collins and Justin Hegarty, parents of Jack Hegarty pictured speaking to the media outside the Four Courts after the High Court approved a €1.7m interim settlement on behalf of Jack.Pic: Collins Courts

A boy who suffered a brain injury after birth at Cork University Maternity Hospital - but has since "defied all odds" - has settled his action against the HSE on terms including an interim payment of €1.7m.

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Jack Hegarty, now aged 22 months, was being breast fed after his delivery when he suffered a collapse but his condition was not monitored as staff cared for his mother, Jacinta Collins, the High Court was told.

A midwife was required to hold faulty lighting in place as a suturing procedure was carried out on Ms Collins.

A faulty mechanism in the bed along with a malfunctioning stirrup holding Ms Collins' leg also meant delay in the suturing procedure, the court heard.

Ms Collins became concerned for the well being of her baby and indicated those concerns to the midwife but was reassured all was well, it was stated. When the suturing procedure was finished, the midwife realised the baby was in a state of collapse.

In court Tuesday, Ms Collins told Mr Justice Kevin Cross mistakes were made but she had no bad feeling towards the midwife. 

When Jack was discharged from hospital,  Ms Collins and her partner Justin Hegarty were told he would be tetraplegic and might only live eight to ten months but he has "defied all odds", she said.

Through his mother, Jack, Ardbrack, Kinsale, Co Cork, sued the HSE over his care after his birth on December 10, 2014.

It was claimed there was failure to monitor the baby adequately or at all, particularly after his birth and up to the time of his collapse, and failure to provide equipment in working order.

Liam Reidy SC, for the child, said liability was admitted in the case. A report following an inquiry had highlighted deficiencies in the equipment, defences concerning causation were later withdrawn and the HSE had also apologised to the family, the court heard.

Mr Reidy said Jack was cared for in ICU after his collapse. Before he was discharged on January 22, 2015 an elderly man who had a relic of Padre Pio came and prayed beside the boy and shortly afterwards Jack was taken off ventilation support, counsel added.

Jack is a fantastic little boy who can crawl and roll and sing his alphabet as well as say some words, Mr Reidy said.

He has undergone a special therapy, the Anat Baniel method of neuro movement, will be able to walk and feed himself and has an impressive cognitive function, counsel added.

Ms Collins said, when they brought Jack home, they thought it was for palliative care but he later began to eat rather than be tube fed and now "eats us out of house and home".

The family will move to California for the next three years so Jack can continue his therapy there, she added.

Approving the settlement Mr Justice Cross praised the "remarkable care" Jack's parents had given him. This was a "happy" story and all sides were to be congratulated, including the HSE in its attitude to the case.

The case will return to court in three years time to decide on provision for the child's future care needs.

Outside court, Ms Collins said what happened to their son was an "avoidable accident two hours after birth".

"No money will ever compensate us for what has happened but it will allow Jack to flow and progress. We are glad to see that the hospital has learned lessons from this and steps have been taken to prevent reoccurrence," she said.

Jack has "broken all boundaries" and the family has kept the focus on him, rather than blame, she added.

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