Lawyers representing an eight-year-old boy who was left with devastating disabilities after his heart stopped before he was born are seeking multi-million-pound damages from the NHS on his behalf, claiming that hospital staff negligently mis-managed his mother’s labour.
The boy suffered catastrophic brain damage after complications arose before his birth at St Thomas' Hospital, in central London, in 2005. He was left suffering from cerebral palsy and epilepsy, is confined to a wheelchair and will require constant care throughout his life.
In seeking compensation from the Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Trust (the Trust) the boy’s lawyers claim that more should have been done to monitor his mother’s ‘high-risk’ pregnancy. The boy was delivered by caesarean section but, by that time, his heart rate had fallen to zero and he had suffered oxygen starvation.
The boy’s legal team argues that an obstetrician should have been called to the mother’s bedside hours earlier when a heart scan returned ‘non-reassuring’ results. It was already known that the boy had a heart abnormality and monitoring showed that the foetal heart rate dropped when the mother had contractions.
It was submitted that, had the mother been promptly referred to a specialist, the boy would have been delivered by caesarean earlier than he was and would have escaped permanent injury. However, the circumstances surrounding the birth are in dispute and Trust denies liability for the boy’s injuries. The High Court hearing is expected to last about a week.