A €2.5m interim settlement has been awarded to a four-year-old boy left brain-damaged at birth won in court yesterday.
In addition to the award Letterkenny University Hospital apologised, at the High Court, for the failings that lead to Jack’s injuries. Hospital general manager Sean Murphy said he wished to express sincere apologies for the failings and the “consequential trauma suffered by him and you, his parents and his family. The hospital understands that neither this apology nor the financial compensation … can negate the continuing heartache that the McGahern Donaghey family must feel every day and appreciate that this continues to be a very difficult time for you.”
Jack, of Killygordon, Co Donegal, had taken the legal action against the Health Service Executive via his mother over the circumstances of his birth on August 5, 2015. It was alleged there was a failure to recognise the maternal heart rate was being recorded instead of the foetal heart rate. In addition to this it was claimed there was an alleged failure to recognise the loss of the foetal heart rate during the active second stage of Ms McGahern’s labour.
Finally, it was further claimed there was a failure to adequately or accurately assess, diagnose or follow up on the baby’s heart rate during labour. The court heard liability was conceded in the case last month. Jack’s parents Denise and Seamus were in court as the apology was read aloud and the interim settlement reached after mediation was approved.
Jack McGahern Donaghey’s mother, Denise McGahern, spoke after the hearing of her relief at the end of a ‘very tough battle’ to win justice for her son, who has cerebral palsy. She said: “”With this interim settlement Jack will get the best support and care and help that he needs. This has been a very stressful time for our family. Although the interim settlement has been achieved today, it has been a very tough battle over the last three years between us and the HSE, causing us anxiety and worry. Whilst the apology from the HSE is welcome, we are saddened and weary of the legal process and struggle to understand why it took this legal road to bring about an explanation and produce an apology.”
She added that they would like lessons to be learned from what occurred at the time of Jack’s birth and they never wanted “this tragedy to be visited on any other family”, going on to say that Jack is a wonderful little boy “who is the light of our lives” and the interim settlement will allow them to move on positively from “what has been an horrendous ordeal”.
Gabriel Gavigan SC, representing Jack, requested that the case be adjourned for 10 years when the court will be asked to make an assessment of Jack’s future care needs. In giving his approval for the settlement, Mr Justice Kevin Cross said the bulk of the money will go toward Jack’s ongoing care.