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Teenager Orphaned by Unique Medical Tragedy Wins £50,000 Compensation

A 16-year-old boy whose mother died after a piece of plastic tubing was left inside her following a heart operation will at least receive a financial start in life after his lawyers negotiated a £50,000 settlement of his unique clinical negligence claim.

The mother suffered from a congenital heart defect and had gone into hospital for her pacemaker to be replaced. A length of plastic insulation tubing, measuring about 30cm in length, was left behind by the surgeon. She later suffered symptoms, including breathlessness, but doctors for a long time did not discover the cause.

By the time she underwent surgery to remove the tube, her pulmonary artery had grown around it. The arterial wall was penetrated during the complex operation and, although it was competently carried out, she died at the age of 40. Lawyers on her family’s behalf launched proceedings against the NHS trust that ran the hospital where the pacemaker replacement was performed.

The trust denied liability on the basis that the mother’s death arose from a freak accident, unique in medical literature, and had therefore not been foreseeable. Following negotiations, however, it agreed to settle the family’s case for a six-figure sum. As the 16-year-old was still a child, the approval of the High Court was required in respect of his £50,000 portion of the settlement.

In granting that approval, the Court found that the compromise reached was entirely sensible and had the added benefit of doing away with the need for the family to undergo the traumatic experience of a contested trial. The payment to the teenager would give him a start in life and, at least to a degree, would compensate him for the loss of his mother at such a young age.

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