Sunday 20 August 2017

Couple in their 90s finally get their wish to be reunited after €825k High Court settlement

Bridget and John Hegarty have been married for 73 years

Old couple. Stock photo
Old couple. Stock photo

Tim Healy

A couple in their 90s will be reunited thanks to an €825,000-plus settlement of an action over the wife's care in hospital for a hip operation, the High Court heard

Bridget Hegarty (94), mother-in-law of former Independent Donegal TD Tom Gildea, has not been back home since she fell at her Glenties, Co Donegal, home two years ago, the court heard. 

She broke her hip, later had to have an operation, and has been cared for in a nursing home since.

However, the court was told,  her dream was to return to live with her husband John, who is 99 this year.

The Hegartys , Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told, have been married for 73 years and have four children.

Mrs Hegarty (94) of, Meenalargan, Glenties, though her daughter Eilish Gildea,  sued the HSE over her care at Letterkenny General Hospital when she was brought there after a fall at her home on October 24, 2015.

It was claimed Mrs Hegarty's right hip injury was incorrectly, inadequately and inappropriately investigated, assessed , evaluated , clinically managed and treated.

Her counsel, Gabriel Gavigan, said she will never walk again.  Since the hip surgery, she has been living in a nursing home as the family home is totally unsuitable.

Counsel said experts on their side contended her hip could have been fixed and she had an 80per cent chance of returning to her former life.  However, counsel said, she now has no no hip joint.

"Mr Hegarty wants to be reunited with his spouse," counsel said.

The settlement against the HSE, allows for care on an ongoing basis for Mrs Hegarty at a house provided  by her son-in-law, Tom Gildea, counsel said.

In her claim, it was alleged that bone cement used in the hip operation allegedly unexpectedly hardened when inserted.  It was claimed further attempts to remove the  hardened cement  allegedly caused a further extensive fracture, splitting the femur so that further surgical interventions were not possible.

The claims were denied.

Mr Gavigan said prior to the fall, Mrs Hegarty  was living independently at her home with her husband and used a zimmer frame to get about.

Mr Gavigan said Tom Gildea has provided a former holiday home which can be adapted to the needs of his in laws.  The settlement also includes annual sums for the ongoing care of Mrs Hegarty.

There was no claim for past care but the total value of the settlement package, counsel said, would be in the region of €825,000 to €850,000.

Mr Justice Cross approved the settlement.

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