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NHS pays out record £20m compensation to brain injury teenager


Eighteen-year-old sustained brain injuries after being starved of oxygen as a baby
An 18-year-old woman has been awarded almost £20m in compensation in what is believed to be a record payout by the NHS.
The teenager, who cannot be named, sustained catastrophic brain injuries after being starved of oxygen as a baby when doctors failed to properly ventilate her. The girl developed complications at five months old following an operation to correct a malformed oesophagus.
She suffered a respiratory arrest at the University hospital of Wales in Cardiff and “turned blue” after being starved of oxygen. Last month, a judge agreed doctors failed to adequately ventilate her before and after her respiratory arrest in February 2000.
She was awarded £2.1m as a lump sum, with annual payments of £203,000 for the rest of her life. Taking into account her life expectancy, the total settlement has been valued at £19,774,265. The figure would be the highest compensation payout by the NHS, with the previous record settlement being a £19,410,417 payout in May.
The mother of the girl, who has cared for her since the treatment, said: “I had my daughter snatched away from me. From that moment she changed forever. She is mobile but doesn’t really know what is going on. I went from having a healthy baby to a seriously disabled child through no fault of our own.
“That said, I wouldn’t change her for the world and don’t love her any differently.”
Justice Robert Harrison announced the settlement against Cardiff and Vale University health board at the high court in the Welsh capital.
Yvonne Agnew, the head of clinical negligence at lawyers Slater and Gordon in Cardiff, which represented the woman, said: “This is a tragic case of a little girl, with her whole life ahead of her, having her future snatched away from her through no fault of her own.
“We have had to fight for years to get justice for our client and to get the trust to admit their failings. I am pleased that the girl will be able to get the care she needs and hope that lessons are learned from this case to ensure this never happens again.”
Cardiff and Vale University health board has been approached for comment.