3 year old Cumbrian cerebral palsy sufferer seeks compensation for oxygen deprivation at birth

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Zak Hall from Sedburgh is seeking compensation from the University Hospitals of Morcambe NHS Trust. Zak was born at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary in April 2007 but, as a result of an alleged catalogue of errors in his mother’s treatment, was effectively stillborn and, when resuscitated, was left with severe physical and mental disabilities. He is also blind. In bringing the claim on Zak’s behalf, his mother Margaret is seeking an apology for the mis-management of her labout and sufficient compensation to enable Zak to be cared for appropriately and given the best possible quality of life his circumstances allow.

Zak is represented by Tom Cook, a clinical negligence specialist at Ashtons Legal, who explains:

“Margaret expressed a strong preference during her pregnancy for Zak to be delivered by planned Caesarian section. This was partly because it was the only way in which she could ensure that her husband would be there as he serves in the Royal Navy, but also because she had suffered a difficult delivery with Zak’s older sister, just over eight years earlier. These difficulties had included needing to be induced and then having an abnormally fast delivery of a large baby and resulting complications with her shoulders.

Since Margaret was being cared for under the same NHS Trust during her second pregnancy, one would assume that her previous history would be taken into account, her concerns be fully addressed – particularly since there were indications at the 32-33 week stage that her second baby was also large, and she showed symptoms associated with pre-eclampsia – and an elective Caesarian planned. We are alleging that had her previous history been given proper consideration, she would have been allowed the planned Caesarian she requested, in which case the likelihood is that Zak would now be living a normal happy life.

In the event, she was not offered a Caesarian but was once again induced. We believe that, at this stage, drug-free methods should have been tried first to see if a normal speed delivery could be encouraged. What actually happened was she was given not one, but two, doses of the same drug which had resulted in her abnormally fast delivery when her daughter was born.

Given her history, if drugs were required it would have been appropriate for these to have been given in a closely monitored environment in the hospital’s delivery suite, and in no greater quantity than during the delivery of her daughter, on the understanding that it was entirely probable she would once again have an excessively fast delivery. This didn’t happen.

Even in light of what we regard as failures in the system up to this point, Zak’s brain damage should have been avoidable if Margaret’s labour and Zak’s condition had been monitored appropriately by staff and she had either been given a different drug to suppress the excessive contractions as soon as these began, or emergency delivery had been achieved more rapidly.

Tragically, the result of what we perceive as a series of system and communication failures, is that Zak was deprived of sufficient oxygen to his brain for an excessive period resulting in injuries which will leave him wholly dependent on others throughout his life.”

Zak’s Mum, Margaret, adds:

“The obstetricians, midwives and nursing staff just didn’t listen to me. If they had done so, Zak would have been born a healthy little boy and not have to suffer daily from the devastating injuries he sustained at birth. I hope that, in addition to providing for Zak’s future needs, bringing this claim will persuade medical staff to listen and pay more attention to mothers in the future so that this may avoid this happening again.

Finally I would just like to say that following Zak’s birth the neonatologist and therapeutical care he has been provided with has been very good; the clinicians have almost become part of our family.”


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