�6.3m payout to girl brain damaged due to Lister blunder

A SIX-YEAR-OLD girl who suffered catastrophic brain damage due to a blunder when she was born at Lister Hospital in Stevenage has won damages worth �6.3m in the High Court today (Tuesday). Ellie Matraves, of Daltry Road in Stevenage, was born in Novembe

A SIX-YEAR-OLD girl who suffered "catastrophic" brain damage due to a blunder when she was born at Lister Hospital in Stevenage has won damages worth �6.3m in the High Court today (Tuesday).

Ellie Matraves, of Daltry Road in Stevenage, was born in November 2002.

The damage to her brain, due to the admitted negligence of hospital staff, left her with severe cerebral palsy and paralysis in all limbs.

Although she cannot walk or talk, her intellect is almost undamaged and she goes to a special school.

Devoted parents, Claire Taylor, 29, and Colin Matraves, 37, both suffered post traumatic stress disorder and depression following Ellie's birth.

Their solicitor, Fiona Mills, of Thomson Snell & Passmore, said: "Ellie was born clinically dead after being starved of oxygen in the womb. She had to be aggressively resuscitated for over two hours.

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"She was taken from her parents, who did not know whether they had a boy or girl or whether she or he was alive or dead. They were just abandoned with no knowledge of what was going on.

"This occurred as a result of the failure by midwives and doctors to recognize Ellie was in distress during labour. Ellie sustained brain damage in the last 20 minutes before she was born. Many babies would not have survived such a long ordeal."

Both parents have given up work to be Ellie's full-time carers at their specially-converted home.

Following the High Court settlement, they said in a joint statement: "No amount of money can ever repair the physical and emotional damage Lister has caused to our daughter's life, but we can now look forward to giving Ellie a better quality of life, with the equipment and care she needs and deserves to realise her potential."

They added: "If it hadn't been for the hospital's appalling negligence, our daughter would have been born a healthy, non-disabled baby girl.

"We are not living in the Dark Ages and it's about time horror stories like this became a thing of the past."

Their counsel, Ralph Lewis QC, told Mr Justice Jack, who approved the award, that Ellie's birth had been "mismanaged, sadly with catastrophic consequences."

He said Ellie's mum was 10 days overdue and labour was induced. But even when scans showed signs of foetal distress the drug continued to be administered and Ellie was starved of oxygen.

She now requires 24-hour care and will never be able to work. She cannot stand or walk unaided. She can roll and wiggle on the floor and has learned to turn pages of a picture book with her feet.

The East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, which runs Lister, has agreed to pay Ellie a lump sum of �2.4m, plus annual index-linked payments rising from �55,000 to �197,850 when she is 19.

Both parents also sued the Trust for the emotional damage they suffered and have received undisclosed damages.

Matthew Jackson, counsel for the Trust, offered an apology to Ellie and her parents for the lapses in care which led to the tragic consequences.

Mr Justice Jack said that in photos Ellie looked "delightful and very happy. I am sure there have been times when she has given you great joy as well as sadness. I hope the joy will predominate in the future."

Ms Mills said: "Ellie's family is relieved the case has now settled so they can get on with the rest of their lives.

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