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Nine-year-old Joshua was awarded a compensation settlement totalling £18 million after midwifery failures when he was a newborn left him with devastating kernicterus brain damage. His case was taken on by leading kernicterus solicitor Eddie Jones of JMW, who was able to secure the substantial sum to provide the lifelong specialist care Joshua requires.
Blood test failure
Joshua was his mother and father’s first baby and was born in a good condition. There were no problems with his birth and no abnormalities with Joshua when he was examined. He took a breastfeed before being transferred to the post-natal ward. Joshua and his mother Kerry were discharged hone just seven hours after his birth and told they would receive a visit from a community midwife the following day.
The morning after their first night at home Kerry, and Joshua’s father Ian, noticed that he was jaundiced. When the community midwife arrived that afternoon they reported the jaundice to her. The midwife was unconcerned and told Kerry and Ian to treat the jaundice by placing Joshua’s Moses basket near the window so that he was exposed to natural light. However, this action would have had no impact at all on Joshua’s jaundice. The appearance of jaundice so early in the newborn period requires investigation and a blood test should have been carried out to check how much bilirubin, the substance that causes yellowing of the skin and eyeballs, was present.
The next community midwife visit was arranged for two days later.
The next midwife to visit Joshua and Kerry was a student, who was more concerned about the jaundice and took some blood from Joshua to take to the lab for testing. The midwife said she would call the family that afternoon to let them know the results. The results did not bring good news and Kerry and Ian were told to take Joshua to hospital immediately as there was a high level of bilirubin in his blood.
Joshua was treated with phototherapy and two blood transfusions to try to bring his bilirubin levels under control. However by now the bilirubin had crossed the blood brain barrier and was causing irreversible damage to his brain.
Tests confirmed that Joshua had suffered serious neurological impairment and was diagnosed with a type of brain damage called kernicterus, caused by poor management of his newborn jaundice.
As Joshua developed he was found to be physically disabled and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. He also has poor hearing (Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder) and developmental delay and will never be able to live independently, work for a living or have his own family,
Successful medical negligence case
Kerry and Ian were completely devastated that their baby, who was born perfectly healthy, had suffered such life-changing injuries while under the care of the community midwifery team. They were put in touch with JMW’s Eddie Jones, who took on their case. After investigating the care provided to Joshua, Eddie found that if the first midwife to visit him at home after his birth had followed the guidelines on the treatment of newborn jaundice, his brain damage would have been avoided. The midwife should have taken a blood test and referred Joshua to hospital for treatment, in which case he would have been completely unharmed and would have made a full recovery.
Nothing could ever fully compensate Joshua for the avoidable loss of a full and independent life, but after Eddie secured compensation totalling £18 million over the course of his life, he will at least have access to the care, equipment, therapy and specialist housing he requires.