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

Posted: November 1st, 2020

Aimee Brennan, a 12-year-old girl, has settled her High Court compensation action for €9.4m in relation to being allegedly paralysed from the chest down from an operation to treat curvature of her spine at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, Dublin.

The operation took place when she was six-years-old and, since that time she has been suffering with paraplegia and has to use a wheelchair.

Aimee’s legal representative, Liam Reidy SC informed the court, that she had curvature of the spine, was living an independent life prior before the operation. However she had opted to undergo the surgery due to the fact that she was unable to breath correctly.

Counsel said the surgery included the placing of an anchor system and implants along the spine using pedicle screws. It was claimed that the screws had been allegedly improperly placed. The hospital did not accept this claimed and argued that the screws did not inflict damage and the injuries could have been caused by a stroke, which is a known complication of this type of surgical treatment.

Aimee’s mother Jacinta informed the court, via an affidavit, that Aimee “…has been through so much but always has a smile on her face”. She added that her daughter was never able to walk since the operation and she has no power or sensation from below chest level.

Aimee, of Wolfhill, Co Laois, took the legal action against Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital through her mother. It was alleged that Aimee had a necessary operation on September 29, 2014 during which she sustained an injury to her spinal cord resulting in paraplegia.

Three days prior to the operation Aimee’s mother was advised that the curve of the spine was significant and was inflicting pressure on Aimee’s lungs and the operation was necessary to save her life. It is claimed no risks or alternative options to the proposed surgery were provided to Mrs Brennan.

Aimee returned from the operation still on traction and was taken to the intensive care unit. Her father Alan remained with her through the night and saw Aimee suffering with pins and needles in her legs at about 4:30am. A nursing note of 6am recorded Aimee being unable to complete requests to move her lower limbs.

An urgent MRI scan was completed and she was taken back to theatre where a hematoma was evacuated during an operation that took over six hours to complete. It is alleged that, in relation to the main operation, there was negligence in implementing a surgical strategy which was not allegedly indicated and which did not permit for more conservative approaches to Aimee’s ailment.

There was an alleged failure to complete pre-operative advanced imaging to create a road map to guide the placement of critical high-risk implants in surgery. The claims were refuted.

Following the operation, Aimee had to attend the National Rehabilitation Hospital in February of 2015 and remained there for three months.

Approving the €9.4m surgical negligence compensation settlement Mr Justice Kevin Cross said it wa a very good one.

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