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Couple whose healthy pregnancy was terminated after they were wrongly told their baby had a fatal foetal abnormality settle High Court action

Rebecca Price and Patrick Kiely say the voice of their unborn son has ‘finally been heard’

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Solicitor Caoimhe Haughey (Left - wearing pinstripe) speaking to the media on behalf of Rebecca Price (Center) and Patrick Kiely (Right) with an address in Phibsboro, Dublin after the settlement of their High Court action for damages. Pic: Collins Cou

Solicitor Caoimhe Haughey (Left - wearing pinstripe) speaking to the media on behalf of Rebecca Price (Center) and Patrick Kiely (Right) with an address in Phibsboro, Dublin after the settlement of their High Court action for damages. Pic: Collins Cou

Rebecca Price and Patrick Kiely outside the Four Courts. Photo: Collins Courts

Rebecca Price and Patrick Kiely outside the Four Courts. Photo: Collins Courts

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Solicitor Caoimhe Haughey (Left - wearing pinstripe) speaking to the media on behalf of Rebecca Price (Center) and Patrick Kiely (Right) with an address in Phibsboro, Dublin after the settlement of their High Court action for damages. Pic: Collins Cou

A couple whose healthy pregnancy was terminated after they were wrongly advised of a fatal foetal abnormality have said the voice of their unborn son has finally been heard as they settled their High Court actions.

Rebecca Price and Patrick Kiely say they are now seeking an urgent meeting with Health Minister Stephen Donnelly.

In a statement outside court on Wednesday, the couple said they want to meet with the minister as soon as possible “to work with him on ways to ensure this ‘never event’ never happens again”.

The couple said the settlement meant they are at “the beginning of the end of a harrowing cruel and tortuous journey” and that the voice of their son has “finally been heard”.

They said they had made it “absolutely clear” in early March 2019 to Professor Fionnuala McAuliffe they would only have considered her advice to end their pregnancy if their baby had no chance of survival.

The statement said the guidelines co-authored by the hospital and clinical defendants in this tragedy to accompany the implementation of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act, 2018, were not followed and their baby, whom they named Christopher Joseph Kiely, was wrongly diagnosed with a condition known as Edwards Syndrome, Trisomy 18.

“Christopher was a normal healthy baby boy,” the statement said.

“It has taken two years, three months and nine days to get to this point.

“Christopher’s voice has finally been heard and vindicated arising from the full admission of liability on the part of Merrion Fetal Clinic and the NMH, Professor Fionnuala McAuliffe, Dr Peter McParland and Professor Shane Higgins on Tuesday at the eleventh hour,” the statement added.

It said nothing will ever take away the “interminable sadness and grief” the couple live with every day but that, following protracted negotiations, a settlement had been reached.

“Nothing will take away Rebecca and Pat’s love for their son, Christopher Joseph Kiely, who would be two years old this summer.”

It also said that “for the sake of maternal and infant health care in our country”, they are “appealing for the immediate cessation of the current practice of not awaiting the results of Chorionic Villus karotyping analysis in all cases where genetic conditions are suspected in the presence of a normal scan”.

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Earlier, the couple held each other in court as the settlement was announced before Mr Justice Paul Coffey on Wednesday evening.

Under the settlement, the defendants, including the National Maternity Hospital, will confirm in writing to the Minister for Health that the DNA extracted from the foetus “showed no evidence of chromosome 18 abnormality and specifically no evidence of mosaicism of Trisomy 18 – although that cannot be completely excluded in the absence of a second cell type. However, these data are consistent with, and most likely representative of, a chromosomally normal baby boy”.

The judge congratulated the sides on reaching a settlement in a case which had at its heart “a human tragedy of very great proportions” and extended his sympathy to the couple.

The couple, with an address in Phibsborough, Dublin, brought separate cases arising from the termination of their unborn son.

The proceedings were against five consultants, Peter McParland, Fionnua McAuliffe, Rhona Mahony, Shane Higgins and Stephen Carroll, operating under a business partnership called Merrion Fetal Health, Lower Mount Street, Grand Canal Dock, Dublin; the National Maternity Hospital and a laboratory, the Greater Glasgow Health Board.

Liability was conceded by the defendants on Tuesday and the actions were adjourned to Wednesday for assessment of damages.

After further talks between the sides, Liam Reidy SC, with Richard Kean SC and Esther Earley BL, instructed by solicitor Caoimhe Haughey, for the couple,told Mr Justice Coffey both sides had worked hard all day to see if the matter could be resolved and it had been resolved on agreed terms.

He asked the court to make orders on consent striking out the proceedings against all seven defendants with an order for the clinic and hospital defendants to pay the plaintiffs costs.

The defendants are also to provide the written confirmation to the Minister for Health concerning the DNA extracted from the foetus as outlined.

The NMH also confirms it operates a policy of a multi-disciplinary team approach to termination for fatal foetal abnormality, counsel said.

Mr Reidy said this was an event of such distress the support they had received from many people had been salutary over the years.


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