Parents Write Book About Challenges Son Faces Which They Hope Will Be Used In Schools
The parents of a boy left severely disabled following birth failings have called for lessons to be learned from his care.
Josiah Ellis was starved of oxygen after staff at Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley switched off a heart rate monitoring machine for 100 minutes during his mum’s labour.
Josiah, whose heart rate had decelerated five times before the machine was turned off, was born without any pulse and had to be resuscitated.
He was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
His parents, Marc and Lotti Ellis, instructed expert lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his care under The Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Trust.
The couple have now joined their legal team in calling for lessons to be learned. They are also using World Cerebral Palsy Day on 6 October to speak about how they want to break down some people’s perceptions around children with disabilities.
With the assistance of detailed expert reports and evidence as to Josiah’s future needs Irwin Mitchell secured an undisclosed settlement which will fund the specialist life-long, support, care and therapies Josiah, who has learning and speech difficulties and is wheelchair reliant, requires. The Trust previously admitted liability.
Expert Opinion“Sadly through our work we see the catastrophic consequences of suffering a brain injury at birth, which has a profound effect on that child and the whole family for the rest of their lives.
“Josiah’s parents have shown incredible resilience throughout the years I have worked with them in coming to terms with what happened and providing the best life possible for Josiah, as well as his brother. Like in many cases where a person suffers a brain injury as a child, Josiah has had to wait several years for doctors to fully establish the true extent of his injuries and predict his likely future needs.
“During the course of our investigations worrying issues in the care that Josiah received were identified.
“While nothing can make up for his injuries it’s vital that lessons are learned so others don’t have to experience the upset that Marc, Lotti and the rest of the family have endured.
“Every minute and second counts when delivering babies in distress.” Lindsay Tomlinson (nee Gibb) - Partner
Marc and Lotti were living in Sedgley at the time of their eldest son’s birth in January 2009. They have another son, Samuel, aged nine.
Lotti said: “What should have been the happiest time of our lives was awful.
“The labour was really distressing. As soon as Josiah was delivered he was taken away to be resuscitated. At first Marc and I were completely in the dark.
“Seeing Josiah afterwards in the special care baby unit while being told he may still die was heartbreaking. During my pregnancy Marc and I had pictured so many times what it would be like meeting Josiah for the first time. What we had hoped for was nothing like the reality.
“Going home without him was really difficult. We were so relieved when he was finally allowed home but we knew that he was not developing properly.”
Following a number of tests Josiah was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 18 months.
Marc and Lotti, who now live in Ockley, Surrey, have produced a book alongside Irwin Mitchell called My Name Is Joe. It charts Josiah’s life so far and the challenges he faces and why.
His parents hope the book will be used in mainstream schools to teach children about how young people with disabilities are just like them and enjoy doing the same things.
Lotti said: “Coming to terms with what the future holds for Josiah has been difficult but we feel so blessed that he is our son. It is almost as though he was given a second lease of life from God, whilst we get a chance to love and hold him for a time. While he faces many challenges we are so proud of the determination he shows not to be defined by his condition.
“He’s an adorable little boy with an infectious smile who enjoys things all children do such as playing with friends and singing. We’re just a normal family who go on days out and go to the park.
“Our lives are dedicated to helping Josiah. He’s making amazing progress at a conductive education school.”
Find out more about our expertise in supporting families affected by birth injuries at our medical negligence section
Lotti was admitted to Russell Hall Hospital at around 7pm on 14 January, 2009. Just after 1am the following morning monitoring of Josiah’s heart rate on a cardiotocography (CTG) machine started and subsequently recorded five occasions of a slowing heart rate. There was also some meconium present (the baby’s first stool) which can be a sign of distress in the baby.
However, the midwifery staff did not escalate Josiah’s condition for a senior review and at 2.40am the decision was taken to turn off the CTG machine despite the concerns with the CTG and signs of meconium.
The machine was switched back on one hour and 40 minutes later at 4.20am and concerns were raised about Josiah’s heart rate. He was delivered 15 minutes later. He was flat without any pulse on delivery and required resuscitation. However, a paediatrician had not been called. It took four minutes for one to arrive following delivery and a further two minutes to resuscitate Josiah.
Based on independent expert evidence Irwin Mitchell argued that CTG monitoring should have continued at 2.40am and his care escalated. Had the monitoring continued it would have shown signs of distress and Josiah would have been born within an hour, it said.
Even if he had been born five to ten minutes before he was, Josiah’s permanent brain injury would have been avoided, the family’s legal team said.
The Trust admitted that the care provided fell below the standard he was reasonably entitled to expect and that had Josiah received the appropriate standard of care he would have been born without brain injury.
Josiah now attends a specialist school for children with cerebral palsy.