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Hospital Healthcare Europe

Damages awarded in brain damage case

25 February, 2008  

The mother of a child who was left brain damaged after being starved of oxygen has secured £4.1m to help pay for her care.

Laura Gaines was 10-months-old when she underwent successful heart surgery at Bristol Royal Infirmary in December 1979.

But negligent after care saw her suffer severe brain damage, leaving her blind, unable to move, and epileptic.

Her mother Ann did not believe she had any claim against the hospital and later moved to the US from Somerset.

But a public inquiry was subsequently held into the cardiac services at Bristol Royal Infirmary, and in 2001 the South West Strategic Health Authority admitted negligence.

The family’s QC, Andrew Spink, told Mrs Justice Cox at London’s High Court that Mrs Gaines is a “truly remarkable” woman who has given Laura a “remarkable quality of life, given her difficulties”.

Sarah Paneth, for the SHA, apologised for its “admitted negligence”, and said Mrs Gaines has shown “extraordinary devotion to her daughter’s care at great personal sacrifice”.

She added: “It is a tragedy that the after care fell short in this case because the surgery was wholly successful.”

The judge approved the settlement, and said she has “enormous respect” for Mrs Gaines.

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