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11-Year-Old Awarded $2.5 Million Birth Injury Settlement

child with cerebral palsyAn 11-year-old boy who is wheelchair-bound and severely disabled with cerebral palsy has recently received a $2.5 million compensation package from the London High Courts based on allegations of birth injury malpractice. The Express and Star reports that the child suffered brain injury at birth in 2004 in the care of medical personnel at Walsall Manor Hospital in the UK.

During a difficult and prolonged labor, the boy’s brain was starved of oxygen, leaving him with irreversible neurological damage that has affected his mobility, speech and cognitive development.  However, despite these staggering physical setbacks, the child – whose name has not been released – has made every attempt to stay positive and carve out a normal life for himself.  Described as a “happy and delightful boy” by onlookers in court, the boy will now have a more secure financial future thanks to the settlement fund.

Mother claims she should have had C-section delivery

The birth injury case went all the way to the High Court, with the plaintiffs’ lawyers seeking a settlement from the Healthcare NHS Trust. Attorneys for the family argued that the delivery room team should have ordered an emergency C-section delivery given the circumstances. Though the NHS Trust denied any wrongdoing, Mrs Justice Thirlwall of the High Court ultimately approved a compensation package totaling £1.63 million, which is equivalent to 2,512,971 US dollars.

After handing down her judgement, Thirwell recognized the “sheer grit and determination” of the boy’s parents, who refused to give up on their child despite being told he was not likely to survive after his traumatic birth. “They have been constant in their devotion to their son and that devotion and love shines through,” said Thirwell in court.

About cerebral palsy and its causes

It is generally thought that cerebral palsy is caused by a fetal brain injury during development inside the womb, or as a result of extended oxygen deprivation at the time of birth.

Possible causes of cerebral palsy include:

  • Rh incompatibility between mother and baby wherein the fetus’ blood cells are damaged by antibodies produced by the mother.
  • Severe and untreated jaundice in the infant that leads to dangerously high levels of bilirubin. This in turn may lead to brain damage.
  • Viral infections during pregnancy, including toxoplasmosis and German measles, that can affect the developing child’s nervous system.
  • Birth asphyxia or oxygen deprivation during delivery, which may result from an untimely C-section, complications with shoulder dystocia, umbilical cord problems or uterine rupture.

While cerebral palsy, which can affect motor skills, speech, hearing, vision and learning abilities of a child, has no known cure, there are special therapies, medications and equipment designed to help children with CP live a more normal life. However, these medical interventions are incredibly expensive, with costs reaching into the hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.

Cerebral palsy and medical negligence

Many families are ill prepared for such enormous financial burdens – especially those who are already struggling to make ends meet with a newborn child. In circumstances like this recent UK case, where medical negligence played a role in a child’s birth trauma, settlements monies procured through litigation are often the only way that families can provide the lifelong care and rehabilitation needed for their children.

  1. Express and Star, Boy given £1.6m compensation over birth injuries suffered at Walsall hospital,

  2. WebMD, What is Cerebral Palsy?