Clinical Negligence & Catastrophic Injury Solicitors
Mother receives compensation after ten year legal battle.
The mother of a nine-year-old girl who died after suffering severe brain damage during a heart operation has received £430,000 compensation.
The child, Carrie Wright, from Hull, was cooled down for two hours during the operation - more than twice the recommended time - and was subsequently unable to walk or stand unaided. She died, aged 20.
Her surgeon, Dr Nihal Weerasena, was struck off following a General Medical Council investigation that included seven other cases.
Dr Weerasena was referred to the GMC in 2014 after Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust reviewed its paediatric care services.
A GMC tribunal chairman Dr Priya Iyer said: “The tribunal is of the opinion that Mr Weerasena, although an experienced doctor, has caused harm to patients in the past and continues to pose a risk to patients.
“Spanning from 2008, Mr Weerasena demonstrated a persistent lack of insight into the seriousness of his misconduct and its consequences. The tribunal determined that Mr Weerasena showed reckless disregard for patient safety.”
The previous year, children's heart operations at Leeds General Infirmary were stopped for a fortnight on the orders of NHS England, amid concerns about the safety of the unit.
Carrie's mother, Dawn Clayton, said: "Prior to the operation, Carrie was just like any other active nine-year old girl.
"She left me early on the day of the operation and came back from surgery changed forever. Yet she was not deterred, she was determined to live her life. We were so proud of her."
Surgical notes showed Carrie's body was cooled and put into circulatory arrest for 121 minutes. At that time, circulatory arrest of more than 45 minutes was avoided by hospitals because it was regarded as likely to result in brain injury. None of the medical notes revealed why there was such a long period of circulatory arrest.
Dawn Clayton, who received an apology from the hospital only 13 years after the operation, won compensation from the NHS trust following a 10-year legal battle.
She said: "All the time we were adjusting to a new life with Carrie and fighting to make sure she received the right care, we were also in a long, hard battle with the hospital for them to admit liability.
"I have always felt that they wanted to sweep this matter under the carpet. I can only wonder if there are other cases like Carrie's. My heart goes out to all those who also suffered at the hands of Dr Weerasena."
Chief medical officer for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Dr Yvette Oade, said: "On behalf of the hospital I would like to express my sincere condolences to the family of Carrie, and deeply regret that we failed to provide the standard of care that she and her family were entitled to. I welcome the fact that this settlement has now been agreed with the NHS Litigation.”