15 December 2015
Hospital Admits ‘Catastrophic’ Blunder that Left Teenager with Serious Brain Damage
A hospital has admitted a ‘catastrophic’ medical blunder which left a teenager with severe brain damage.
Anna White was just 15 years old when she began to experience stomach pains and was taken to the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary in Wigan where she was diagnosed with appendicitis.
She underwent surgery, which appeared to go well until shortly afterwards when, back on the ward, she suddenly stopped breathing and suffered a cardiac arrest.
Doctors managed to revive her, but the lack of oxygen to her brain caused serious damage which has left her profoundly disabled and needing round-the-clock care for the rest of her life.
It later emerged that a cannula used to administer the anaesthetic drug, suxamethonium, had been left unwashed following the operation.
When used again to pump fluids into her body, it also flushed the remains of the suxamethonium into her system and sparked a rare but devastating reaction.
Anna’s mum, Donna, from Wigan, quit her job to become a full-time carer for her daughter who had dreams of a career in midwifery and was also a promising gymnast and karate champ.
She now needs help with the simplest of tasks, such as feeding or washing herself, and can no longer walk or talk, communicating by using a special board of letters to spell out words.
Donna, 39, said: "I say it’s like having a newborn baby because everything a newborn baby needs, that’s what I do now.
"It has had devastating consequences, but I’m just grateful that Anna is still here and she knows who I am.
"If this hadn’t happened, she would have been going to university this year. She wanted to become a midwife and she would have achieved it, we couldn’t find anything Anna couldn’t do.
"I sometimes think ‘why my little girl?’ She had done nothing wrong, she didn’t deserve this. I am not angry for what I go through, but for what they have taken from her."
Following the incident on September 21, 2011, Anna spent the next five months in hospital before being allowed home.
The teenager, now 19, and her mum also had to move miles from their two-storey house to a more accessible bungalow.
Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust has now admitted negligence, but four years on and Donna, with the help of Slater and Gordon, is still fighting a legal battle for compensation to ensure her daughter gets the care and support she needs.
She says the prognosis is bleak, but refuses to give up hope.
She added: "Anna knows she will need 24-hour care, she knows she is always going to be disabled.
"But doctors are discovering new things all the time and she is a very determined young lady.
"She never says ‘why me, mum?’ She just wakes up every day with this big smile on her face and we get through it together."
Clinical negligence specialist, from law firm, Slater and Gordon, who is representing the family, said: “As a result of this admitted and avoidable mistake, Anna suffered catastrophic injury which has completely and irreversibly changed her life.
“She will always be dependent on others and, while no sum of money will ever make up for what happened, it will make some aspects of her life easier and more comfortable in the future.”
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