News Courts

Thursday 2 October 2014

Emergency surgery 'saved life of rugby student', court hears

Tim Healy

Published 13/03/2014 | 02:30

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Lucas Neville (22) with his mother Michelle. Photo: Courtpix

A YOUNG student who suffered a kick in the head during a schools' rugby match would have died had emergency surgery not saved his life, a consultant neurosurgeon told a court.

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Dr Daniel Roderick said Lucas Neville's score on a test to assess a person's level of consciousness following a traumatic brain injury indicated the extreme severity of his injury when he was rushed to Beaumont Hospital on November 28, 2009. He scored just four on that test, the Glasgow Coma Scale, which has a range from three to 15.

He had collapsed minutes after suffering a kick to the head during a match between St Michael's College, Ailesbury Road, Dublin and St Mary's College. Dr Roderick was giving evidence at the High Court in the continuing action by Mr Neville against St Michael's College and St Vincent's Healthcare Group, as owner of St Vincent's Hospital, Elm Park, Dublin.

Mr Neville, now aged 22, of Pembroke Lawns, Ballsbridge, Dublin, has sued for some €5m damages as a result of his injuries. Dr Roderick, whose team at Beaumont managed Mr Neville's treatment, told the court the young man was deeply unconscious and the pupils of his eyes were fixed when he underwent surgery for a subdural haemotoma.

Mr Neville had two haemotomas – the medical term for a collection of blood in the body. One was an acute haemotoma as a result of the November 28 injury, and an earlier chronic haemotoma suffered as a result of another injury sustained during rugby training weeks earlier. The day after surgery, the pupils of Mr Neville's eyes were reactive, indicating "we got him in time", Dr Roderick said.

Had the surgery not been carried out when it was, Mr Neville "would not have survived".

NORMALITY

Dr Roderick said he believed Mr Neville's condition was unlikely to improve beyond his present state and there was also a risk he may develop epilepsy.

He agreed with Eoghan Fitzsimons SC, for the school, that some other studies suggest it is possible for people with such injuries to return to normality.

The court has heard Mr Neville collapsed after suffering a head injury in the schools' rugby match on November 28, 2009. He had suffered another injury 17 days earlier, after a knee accidentally collided with his head during school rugby training. After the training injury, Mr Neville went to St Vincent's A&E where he received treatment. He returned to the hospital on November 15 with headaches and eye difficulties. It is alleged the hospital should have, but failed, to carry out a scan of his head on November 15.

Mr Justice Sean Ryan was told his mother Michelle, worried about the November 11 injury, had been assured by the school it would implement its protocol under which students who suffer head injuries would not be involved in contact sports for a three-week period.

Both defendants have admitted liability and Mr Justice Ryan's task is to assess damages.

The defendants dispute the €5m value of the claim, particularly some €2m being sought for future care.

The case continues.

Irish Independent

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