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Four-year-old Jack Awarded €2.5m Compensation for Brain Damage during Birth

A four-year-old boy from Co Donegal, left brain-damaged at birth, was awarded a €2.5m interim settlement in court yesterday.

Along with the award Letterkenny University Hospital issued an apology, at the High Court, for the mistakes that lead to Jack’s injuries. Hospital general manager Sean Murphy expressed 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, from Killygordon, Co Donegal, had initiated the legal action against the Health Service Executive (HSE) through his mother in relation to the events surrounding his birth on August 5, 2015. It was claimed that the maternal heart rate was being recorded rather than the foetal heart rate. In addition to this it was alleged that there was a failure to recognise the loss of the foetal heart rate during the active second stage of Ms McGahern’s labour.

It was also alleged that the baby’s heart rate during labour was not adequately or accurately assessed, diagnosed or followed up on. The court was told that liability was conceded in the case last month. Jack’s parents Denise and Seamus were in court as the apology was read out and the interim settlement reached after the judge gave his approval for mediation.

Denise McGahern Jack’s mother 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 went on to say that they would like lessons to be learned from what happened during Jack’s birth and they never wished for “this tragedy to be visited on any other family”, going on to say that Jack is a special 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, legal counsel Jack, asked that that the case be adjourned for 10 years when the court will complete 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 provide for Jack’s ongoing treatment.

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