Devoted Parents Celebrate ‘Miracle’ Son’s First Birthday

Medical Law Experts Work To Secure Vital Care Package For Baby Boy

20.02.2013

The devoted parents of a baby boy who were told he was unlikely to live any longer than two hours because midwives failed to notice his heart rate dropping dangerously low during his birth have spoken of their joy as he celebrates his first birthday.

Doctors at St Michael’s Hospital in Bristol told Ollie Lewis’ parents Neil Lewis and Charmaine Malcolm that it was unlikely he would ever breathe on his own or open his eyes, but he has defied all expectations and his proud parents are holding a party to celebrate their only son’s achievements as he turns one on 21 February.

Ollie suffers a catalogue of disabilities as a result of his brain being starved of oxygen for so long, including blindness, epilepsy and cerebral palsy, meaning he needs round the clock care as he barely sleeps and requires pump feeding for 20 hours per day. Dad Neil has had to give up his job as a recruitment consultant and mum Charmaine has lost her business as a self-employed hairdresser so they can provide Ollie’s care.

The Weston couple have instructed medical negligence experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell in a battle for justice against University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and to help gain the necessary funds for Ollie’s future care and rehabilitation.

Their solicitors, Julie Lewis and Natalie Jones, confirmed that at a complaint meeting held by the Trust, they agreed that mistakes had been made and the Trust had let them down and Ms Lewis paid tribute to the parents ‘tremendous dedication’ in caring for their son who will need 24-hour support for the rest of his life.

The medical law expert at Irwin Mitchell said: “Neil and Charmaine have shown tremendous dedication in caring for Ollie and their love and support is testament to how far he has progressed during the first year of his life.

“Having said that, Ollie is still a very poorly little boy who needs 24-hour care and it is vital the couple are given support with this as at the moment as they have very little external help and their life revolves around keeping Ollie alive.”

An investigation launched by the Trust after Ollie’s birth found midwives failed to diagnose that Charmaine was in full labour meaning his heart rate was left unmonitored for several hours and the unit was under staffed which meant patients did not get the level of care from midwives that they should have.

A series of recommendations in staffing levels, communication between teams and attitude have been drawn up to prove lessons have been learnt and the couple received an apology from the Chief Executive of the Trust during the complaint meeting.

Neil, 26, said: “Charmaine had a healthy pregnancy and we were so excited for the birth of our first son but when we got to St Michael’s we weren’t given the support we were expecting.

“Midwives kept saying Charmaine wasn’t in full labour and there was nothing they could do at that stage but given her pain levels and the frequency of contractions we knew she was. We felt utterly helpless. Once she was finally assessed and hooked up to monitors we could tell by the midwives faces that something was seriously wrong.

“When we were told that Ollie was severely brain damaged and unlikely to live more than a couple of hours we were devastated but also so angry that it had happened. We had him Christened in hospital and then the life support machines were turned off. Amazingly Ollie could breathe on his own, but staff told us it was unlikely to last and to take him home for his final hours.

“We lived life hour by hour, then day by day. Our lives revolved around making sure he was breathing and getting enough fluid but he kept holding on.”

Ms Lewis added: “The Trust stated verbally that mistakes were made and we are awaiting the formal position to be confirmed by their Solicitors. Hopefully we can then take prompt steps to arrange a life-long care package for Ollie that will see him provided with full-time carers, rehabilitation such as speech and movement therapies and funds for future treatment and feeding and breathing equipment.

“We welcome the Trust’s investigation into Ollie’s birth and hope the recommendations have been implemented to ensure no other families have to go through the same heartache as Neil and Charmaine.”

Before his first birthday, Ollie has already had to endure two operations to insert a feeding line into his stomach and a second to block the top of his stomach so he cannot be sick and choke on his feed.

Neil said: “To be able to celebrate Ollie’s first birthday as a family is a day we never thought we would see. It feels like a miracle and we are so proud of him and all his achievements. What might be small to most parents is a huge milestone in our child’s life to us. He can breathe without help, can open his eyes and we hope one day he might be able to smile.

“However, he is still very poorly and we know he will need 24 hour care forever. He suffers a lot of infections and we sleep at night with one ear always listening out for his breathing.

“Life is incredibly hard but we have had vital support from Sarah Hanlon, the Client Liaison Manager at Irwin Mitchell who puts us in touch with groups and organisations who provide support. We just hope that with Trust works quickly with our lawyers so Ollie has access to all the care, rehabilitation and equipment he needs. It will be one less thing to worry about.”

 

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise related to Cerebral Palsy claims