In the High Court A letter of apology from the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) to Fionn Feely has been read out following the approval of a cerebral palsy compensation settlement of €18m for the young boy.
The Dublin hospital apologised for the shortcomings in care at the time of Fionn’s birth, who is now six years old, which resulted in him sustaining significant injuries. The young boy suffers with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, cannot communicate verbally and must be tended to 24-hours a day.
Counsel for the young boy and his family Liam Reidy SC, instructed by Lyndy Cantillon solicitor, informed the High Court that his clients were claiming that Fionna should have been delivered three hours earlier and that he sustained the brain injuries towards the end of the labour.
Fionn, through his father, took legal action against the National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street, Dublin, in relation to the circumstances of his birth that took place in April 2015.
It was alleged that there had been a failure to properly manage the pregnancy and labour of Mrs Feely and a failure to properly monitor the baby’s foetal heart rate. Additionally it was alleged there had been a failure to identify and treat the symptoms or signs of foetal distress and a failure to opt for a caesarean section in the circumstance of elevated maternal temperature and pathological CTG trace.
The NMH accepted that there had been a breach of duty in relation to the claims admitting that a foetal blood sample should have been opted for in relation to Mrs Feely’s care between 20.55 hours and 21.10 hours and further thought should have been given at 21.10 or shortly thereafter to deliver the infant using a caesarean section.
The letter to the Feelys, which was read to the court, was from the Master of the NMH, Professor Shane Higgins.
It said: “On behalf of the National Maternity Hospital I wish to sincerely apologise for the shortcomings in care during Mrs Feely’s labour and delivery in April 2015 and to Fionn for his devastating injuries. We do not underestimate how difficult and traumatic it has been for you and your family and acknowledge the challenges that you have faced on a daily basis since that time and we are truly sorry.”
Stephen and Deirdre Feely, Fionn’s parents, said fighting for justice for their first-born has changed them. In a statement outside the Four Court Fionn’s father Stephen said that over the previous six years they have experienced much sadness, worry and grief on a daily basis, but their son is “much more than his diagnosis.”
He said: “Like many people anticipating the birth of their first child, our hopes and dreams were wrapped up in one little person. “Those dreams were shattered, and it is difficult to describe the devastation we experienced. The joy of holding our first-born child in our arms was taken from us. It was supposed to be the happiest day of our lives, it became our worst.”
“We are his world, and he is ours. “Our hope now is that we finally have the opportunity to enjoy just being parents to Fionn, as opposed to primarily being his carers and then we will also have a chance to give him absolutely everything he needs and deserves to get the most out of his life. There has been no respite from our grief, no respite from our daily struggles and worries, no respite from the what-ifs and whys and the thoughts of what could have been.”
He added: “No amount can account for what Fionn has lost or ever bring back the child that Fionn should have been, but this money will go towards giving him a future he can look forward to and thrive in.”
As he was approving the birth injury compensation settlement, Judge Justice Paul Coffey praised the Feelys for the remarkable job that they have done as parents to Fionn.