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Girl Left Paralysed from the Chest Down Awarded €9.4m Compensation Settlement

A High Court settlement of €9.4m has been approved for a 12-year-old girl who was allegedly paralysed from the chest down from an operation to treat curvature of her spine.

The girl in question, Aimee Brennan underwent the operation at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, Dublin when she was six years old. Due to her paraplegia she now has to use a wheelchair. The court was informed that the legal action case was quite complicated and the compensation settlement was agreed without acceptance of liability.

Her legal representative Liam Reidy SC informed the court that Aimee, who had curvature of the spine, was living an independent life prior to the surgical the operation. However, he added that the surgery was required to help her breathing. The surgery, he said, involved the placing of an anchor system and implants along the spine using pedicle screws. It was their argument that the screws had been improperly placed.

Aimee – with an address at Wolfhill, Co Laois – sued Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital via her mother. In the claim submitting to court it was claimed that Aimee had a required operation on September 29, 2014 during which led to her sustaining an injury to her spinal cord leading to her paraplegia.

The hospital refuted all of the allegations and said that the screws did not cause damage and could have been caused by a stroke, which is a common complication with this type of surgical procedure. Prior to the operation Aimee’s mother was told that the curve of the spine was significant severe and inflicting pressure on Aimee’s lungs and the operation was needed to save her life.

Following the operation, Aimee was still on traction and was taken to the intensive care unit. Her father Alan stayed with her that night and noticed Aimee was suffering with pins and needles in her legs at about 4:30am. A nursing note of 6am said that Aimee was unable to comply with requests to move her lower limbs. Due to this an urgent MRI scan was completed and she was taken back to theatre where a hematoma was evacuated during an operation which took six hours.

It is also alleged claimed that there was negligence during the main operation by following a surgical strategy which did not allow for more conservative approaches to Aimee’s condition. Along with this there was an alleged failure to complete pre-operative advanced imaging to present a road map to guide the placement of critical high-risk implants in surgery. The claims were refuted by the defence.

The Judge was also informed that no potential danger points or alternative options to the proposed surgery were provided to Mrs Brennan.

In an affidavit provided to the court, Aimee’s mother Jacinta said of her daughter: “She has been through so much but always has a smile on her face.” She added that Jacinta was unable to walk again after the operation and she has no power or sensation from below chest level.

Approving the €9.4m settlement Mr Justice Kevin Cross said it was a very good one.

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