Maternity hospital apologises to 6-year-old as birth injury case settled for €18m

A letter of apology was read out in the High Court as Fionn Feely settled his legal action against the hospital for €18 million
Maternity hospital apologises to 6-year-old as birth injury case settled for €18m

The National Maternity Hospital has apologised to a 6-year-old boy with cerebral palsy for the shortcomings in care and the devastating injuries he suffered at birth.

The letter of apology was read out in the High Court as Fionn Feely settled his legal action against the hospital for €18 million.

Fionn Feely has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, cannot speak and needs 24-hour care.

The family’s counsel Liam Reidy SC instructed by Lyndy Cantillon solicitor told the High Court it was their case Fionn should have been delivered three hours earlier. Counsel said it was their contention the insult to Fionn’s brain was towards the end of the labour.

“We say if he had been delivered in accordance with proper standards, there would not be brain damage,” Counsel said.

Apology letter

The letter to the Feelys which was read to the High Court was from the Master of the National Maternity Hospital Professor Shane Higgins.

It said: “On behalf of the National Maternity Hospital I wish to sincerely apologise for the shortcomings in care during Mrs Feely’s labour and delivery in April 2015 and to Fionn for his devastating injuries.”

It added: “We do not underestimate how difficult and traumatic it has been for you and your family and acknowledge the challenges that you have faced on a daily basis since that time and we are truly sorry.”

Fionn’s parents Stephen and Deirdre Feely from Clontarf, Dublin on Tuesday said fighting for justice for their firstborn has changed them.

Our hopes and dreams were wrapped up in one little person. Those dreams were shattered

“Like many people anticipating the birth of their first child, our hopes and dreams were wrapped up in one little person. Those dreams were shattered, and it is difficult to describe the devastation we experienced,” they said.

“The joy of holding our first-born child in our arms was taken from us. It was supposed to be the happiest days of our lives, it became our worst,” they added.

More than his diagnosis

In a statement outside the Four Court Fionn’s father, Stephen Feely, on behalf of the family said over the last six years they have known sadness worry and grief on a daily basis, but their son is “much more than his diagnosis.”

He said Fionn is happy, funny, clever, mischievous, playful, inquisitive and above all loving.

“We are his world, and he is ours. Our hope now is that we finally have the opportunity to enjoy just being parents to Fionn, as opposed to primarily being his carers and then we will also have a chance to give him absolutely everything he needs and deserves to get the most out of his life.”

Describing the last six years, Mr Feely said: “There has been no respite from our grief, no respite from our daily struggles and worries no respite from the what ifs and whys and the thoughts of what could have been.”

He added: “No amount can account for what Fionn has lost or ever bring back the child that Fionn should have been, but this money will go towards giving him a future he can look forward to and thrive in.”

Alleged failures

Fionn Feely, Mount Prospect Drive, Clontarf, Dublin had through his father Stephen Feely sued the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, Dublin over the circumstances of his birth in April, 2015.

It was claimed there was an alleged failure to properly manage the pregnancy and labour of Mrs Feely and an alleged failure to properly monitor the baby's fetal heart rate.

It was further claimed there was an alleged failure to recognise and or act on the symptoms or signs of fetal distress and a failure to consider a caesarean section in the circumstance of elevated maternal temperature and pathological CTG trace.

The National Maternity Hospital admitted a breach of duty regarding the allegations made in respect of labour and delivery. It said a foetal blood sample should have been considered between 20.55 hours and 21.10 hours and consideration should have been given at 21.10 or shortly thereafter to delivery by caesarean section.

In court Mrs Feely said her son was on life support after his birth and he was not expected to survive coming off it. She said her son was a great personality and a joy to spend time with.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Paul Coffey paid tribute to the Feelys and said they were remarkable parents.

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