High Court to assess compensation for couple over wrongful termination of healthy pregnancy

Rebecca Price and Patrick Kiely

4 July 2021

The High Court is to assess compensation in the case over the alleged wrongful termination of a healthy pregnancy as a result of the parents being wrongly advised of a fatal foetal abnormality.

Rebecca Price and Patrick Kiely, from Phibsborough, Dublin, have brought separate cases arising from the termination of their unborn son, whom they named as Christopher Joseph Kiely.

On Tuesday, after day-long talks between the sides, Mr Justice Paul Coffey was told that liability had been conceded in the case which will now proceed as assessment of damages only.

Counsel for the couple, Richard Kean SC, said concentration on the assessment of damages will now reduce the duration of the case which had been flagged to last as long as three weeks.

The couple held hands in court as the judge was told liability had been conceded in full by the defendants and they later left the Four Courts with their solicitor Caoimhe Haughey.

Ms Price and Mr Kiely have sued five consultants practising at Merrion Fetal Health, Lower Mount Street, Grand Canal Dock, Dublin; the National Maternity Hospital and a laboratory, the Greater Glasgow Health Board.

In their action they said they were delighted to find themselves expecting their first child on Christmas Eve 2018 with an estimated delivery date for early September 2019.

Ms Price (38) claims on February 21, 2019, she had a completely normal ultrasound scan at 12 weeks and she was advised a week later that a non-invasive prenatal test, known as a Harmony test, had been positive for Trisomy 18.

Trisomy 18, also known as Edwards Syndrome, is a rare chromosomal condition affecting how long a baby may survive, with most babies dying before or shortly after birth.

She claims she underwent a second ultrasound scan which was also completely normal and was then advised by the clinic to undergo Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS). Her samples were set to the Glasgow laboratory for testing and she was advised a rapid result from the testing revealed Trisomy 18 had been detected, it is alleged.

During a consultation on March 11, 2019, she claims she was wrongly advised by her consultant on matters including the non-viability of her pregnancy and that her baby had a fatal foetal abnormality. She claims she followed advice to terminate her pregnancy which occurred three days later.

It is claimed the result of a full Karotype analysis was later furnished to the defendants which revealed the foetus had a normal male Karotype and did not have Trisomy 18. That result, it is claimed, was readily explained by the “well-recognised” phenomenon of confined placental mosaicism – meaning the abornmal cells were confined to the placenta.

It is further claimed that Ms Price and Mr Kiely were wrongly assured the discordant result would not have changed advice to terminate the pregnancy had it been available pre-termination.

On learning the result of the full Karotype, Ms Price claims she suffered intense nervous shock, having realised she had terminated “a normal, healthy baby”.

It is claimed there was a failure to refer Ms Price and her partner for appropriate genetic counselling to enable them to be advised accurately and comprehensively prior to making any decision to terminate the pregnancy.

Ms Price, it is claimed, has been left with a devastating sense of loss which nothing and nobody can fill and she experienced what she describes as an all-consuming physical and mental trauma that has consumed her ever since.

Mr Kiely, it is claimed, will carry the painful loss of his son with him throughout his life.

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