08:45, November 25 88 0 theguardian.com

2017-11-25 08:45:04
Woman awarded £9m damages for care of son who 'should not have been born'

A mother has been awarded £9m high court damages to raise the son who would not have been born if she had known of his haemophilia.

Shortly after Omodele Meadows gave birth to Adejuwon in September 2011, she discovered he had the rare condition that affects the blood’s ability to clot.

The six-year-old’s condition is severe and his joints have been affected by repeated bleeds.

In December 2015, he was diagnosed with autism, which has made the management of his haemophilia more complicated.

He does not understand the benefit of the treatment he requires and will not tell his parents when he has a bleed.

Adejuwon is unlikely to be able to administer his own medication or manage his own treatment plan and his autism will also prevent him living independently or finding paid employment.

Meadows, 40, brought proceedings against GP Dr Hafshah Khan, who worked in a practice in south London when Meadows saw her in 2006 to obtain the results of blood tests she had requested after her nephew was diagnosed with haemophilia.

The tests, which had been arranged by another GP, could establish whether a patient had haemophilia, but could not confirm whether Meadows was a carrier of the gene, said Mrs Justice Yip.

Meadows was told that the results were normal and, as a result of the advice received at that consultation and the earlier one, was led to believe that any child she had would not have the condition.

The judge said that, had Meadows been referred for genetic testing in 2006, she would have known she was a carrier and undergone foetal testing.

That would have disclosed that the foetus was affected and she would have chosen to terminate the pregnancy.

It was agreed that Meadows could recover the additional costs of raising Adejuwon connected with his haemophilia, but it was disputed that this applied to his autism.

Dr Khan’s case was that such costs were outside the scope of her liability because the service she was providing was only in relation to the risk of haemophilia.

The judge said that Meadows was entitled to the additional costs associated with both conditions and awarded her the sum of £9m, which had been agreed subject to the resolution of the legal issue.

In her ruling, the judge said: “It cannot be easy for any mother to contend bluntly that her child should not have been born.”

But Ms Meadows’s love for her son “shone through”, she added. “She had specifically sought to avoid bringing a child with haemophilia into the world, knowing the suffering that the condition causes.

“The fact that she says clearly that she would have terminated her pregnancy had she known the baby would have haemophilia is not the same at all as saying that Adejuwon is now an unwanted child.

“On the contrary, it appears that he is much loved and well cared for. The burden of caring for him, though, is much greater than the burden of caring for a ‘normal’, healthy child and extends far beyond the purely financial cost.

“Although this is a claim for her loss, I do not doubt that her primary motive in bringing this claim is to provide a better life for her son.”

The judge added: “Equally, I recognise it cannot be easy for a doctor to admit liability on the basis of a consultation to give blood results which she herself had not ordered and probably in the course of a busy day.

“Concerns about the rising cost of clinical negligence claims and the impact on general practitioners’ indemnity insurance have been widely reported. Holding the balance between these competing concerns is not easy and simply highlights the need for rigorous application of the legal principles, putting sympathy aside.”