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Mum Starved of Oxygen After Giving Birth Receives Seven-Figure Payout

Serious injury or death in childbirth is thankfully a rare event nowadays. However, as a High Court case in which a mother received more than £5.5 million in damages showed, having a child can never be entirely free from risk.

Shortly after her daughter's birth, the mother suffered a cardiac arrest and oxygen starvation that permanently damaged her brain. It was alleged that her injury arose from a negligent failure to give her intravenous fluids during spinal anaesthesia. After a clinical negligence claim was lodged on her behalf, the NHS trust that bore responsibility for her care admitted liability in full.

A settlement of her claim was successfully negotiated whereby the trust agreed to pay her a lump sum of £2,500,000, together with annual, index-linked payments to cover the costs of the care and support that she would need for life. The capitalised value of the settlement was conservatively calculated at £5,560,000.

With appropriate support, experts considered her capable of making many important decisions for herself. There was, however, doubt as to whether she had the capacity to manage large sums of money. Whether or not she should formally be viewed as a protected party, however, the Court was satisfied that it should exercise its power to review the settlement to ensure that it was in her best interests.

In approving the settlement, the Court noted that she was unable to enjoy the first few months of her daughter's life and feels sad that she cannot help her with her homework. Despite having recovered to some extent following rehabilitation, her cognitive abilities, particularly her memory, remain seriously impaired. She has difficulty following television programmes and relies heavily on technology as an aid to recall. She feels that her life has been turned upside down.

Praising her parents for the unstinting and selfless support they have given her, the Court observed that the case demonstrated how, despite severe hardship, loving families rally round. Although no amount of money could turn the clock back, the Court hoped that the settlement would make all their lives a little easier.