THE parents of a severely brain-damaged child facing a mammoth legal bill over a failed court case have been left "overwhelmed" by the support they have received.
Linda and Anthony Duffy revealed they only decided to take the High Court case to give their beloved first-born child Mark (10), who has cerebral palsy, a better life and to try keep him in their specially-adapted home.
The parents took the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) to court over alleged negligence in the treatment following Mark's birth. High Court Judge Sean Ryan found in favour of the hospital and awarded half the hospital's costs in the long-running case against the family. It is expected this will amount to €500,000.
Mr Duffy (44), who works in maintenance with St John of God's charity, said they were amazed at the amount of support they have received since they made public their devastation over the ruling.
"We're so shocked to see the amount of support," Mr Duffy said.
"A member of the public, he's a chef in one of the hospitals, contacted us to offer his services free of charge if we wanted to put on a benefit dinner."
In addition, the parish priest in Cabinteely has given them the option of using church property for a potential benefit night.
The profoundly disabled child requires 24-hour care after suffering severe brain injuries and loss of an eye after contracting meningitis following his premature birth. The family's only asset is their home, specially adapted to care for Mark. Father-of-three Mr Duffy said they were finding it difficult to cope with the situation already without being lumbered with a half a million euro bill. However, Mr Duffy said they would be having meetings with their legal team in the coming weeks to decide their next step.
The NMH yesterday refused to say whether or not it will be pursuing the Duffy family for its €500,000 in legal costs.
"If we were getting support from the Government and help from the Government at home we would never have taken the case on," Mrs Duffy (38), a primary school teacher, said.
The family said they had to battle hard to get four nights of care at home from the Health Services Executive (HSE).
"Our big concern is with all the cuts happening throughout the country that there will be more cuts and we'll lose that," Mrs Duffy explained, adding they were still waiting to find out if his medical card would be renewed.
"We have fought an awful lot to get what we have in place. We are fighters," Mr Duffy said. "We do so much for Mark we want to make his life as best as possible."
Despite the outcome, Mr Duffy said they did not regret taking the case.