Mother sues for nervous shock after baby suffered brain injury

Mother sues for nervous shock after baby suffered brain injury

By Irish Times
Wednesday, 5th May 2021
Filed under: LatestLegalNews

A mother whose baby collapsed and suffered a brain injury while on her breast after birth has sued for nervous shock in the High Court.

Jacinta Collins said she had asked was her baby Jack Hegarty “breathing at all” and was told he was “just snuggling in”.

There was panic later as attempts were made to resuscitate the new-born, she claims.

Ms Collins (44), is currently living in California, US so Jack, now aged six, can access certain therapies.

She claims she suffered post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of what happened after his birth on December 10th 2014.

Jack, who has cerebral palsy, has to date received some €2.6m in interim payments under a settlement of his separate action against the HSE over the circumstances of his birth at Cork University Maternity Hospital. His case will return to court next year for further assessment concerning his future care needs.

At the earlier ruling of the boy’s settlement, the court was told a midwife was required to hold faulty lighting in place as a suturing procedure was carried out on Ms Collins’ after Jack’s birth.

A faulty mechanism in the bed, along with a malfunctioning stirrup holding Ms Collins’s leg, meant delay in the suturing procedure, the court heard.

The HSE admitted liability in Jack’s case. The court was previously told an inquiry had highlighted deficiencies in the equipment and the HSE also apologised to the family.

Ms Collins from Kinsale, Cork, has separately sued for nervous shock.

She told a remote hearing of her case on Tuesday she remembered when Jack was born and saying hello to him. She said he looked right up at her.

“It was perfect. I did not know if it was a boy or a girl. I was happy he was there, and he was healthy. He was placed on my breast.”

She was told she needed two “cosmetic sutures”, she said.

The stirrup holding her left foot broke and she had to try to hold up her leg as the suturing took place, she said. The lamp being used was flickering on and off and Jack’s father Justin Hegarty had offered his pocket keyring light, she said.

She said she just wanted to get back to enjoying her baby.

“I said to the midwife is he breathing at all. She said he is just snuggling in. I trusted what she said.!

Earlier, opening the case, Oonah McCrann SC, instructed by Ernest Cantillon Solicitors, said Ms Collins had accepted the reassurance and this later “tortured her”.

In her evidence, Ms Collins said when the midwife took the baby, he was “ all white” and there was “panic and screaming and shouting”.

As attempts were made to resuscitate her son she was praying for him to be saved, she said. “It seemed to go on and on. I was praying, then a nurse said they had a heartbeat.”

She said her son was taken to ICU and they were told three hours later he was very sick and the family were later brought in to say goodbye to him.

Ms Collins, a pharmaceutical scientist formerly with an address at Ardbrack, Kinsale, claims she has suffered post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of what happened after the birth.

She claims, while breastfeeding, she was positioned in a forward leaning position contrary to good practice as a repair was carried out to the perineum. She claims a situation was caused to arise where the baby suffered a severe ischaemic encephalopathy.

It is further claimed there was failure to note or respond to warnings from her regarding the condition of the baby.

The HSE has admitted breach of duty in not adequately monitoring the baby after his birth and up to the onset of sudden neonatal collapse but denies all claims in relation to nervous shock.