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Mother to Receive Compensation for Brain Damage during Surgery

The mother of a woman who died ten years after undergoing a routine operation is to receive £430,000 compensation for brain damage during surgery.

In September 2003, nine-year-old Carrie Wright from Hull in Yorkshire attended Leeds Royal Infirmary to undergo elective surgery to repair a heart defect. In order to prevent brain damage while her heart was being repaired, Carrie was put into Deep Hypothermic Circulatory Arrest. However, rather than limiting the period of circulatory arrest to the recommended forty-five minutes, the surgeon kept Carrie in this condition for more than two hours.

As a result of the surgeon´s negligence, Carrie sustained significant brain damage. She was unable to walk or stand without help, she needed assistance with practically every aspect of her daily live and had very limited speech. Until her death in December 2013, Carrie attended a specialist college in Nottinghamshire during the week and was cared for by her parents at weekends.

While she was still alive, Carrie´s mother – Dawn Clayton – claimed compensation for brain damage during surgery on her daughter´s behalf, alleging there was no justifiable reason for Carrie´s surgeon keeping her in circulatory arrest for so long. Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust initially denied liability for Carrie´s injury until the surgeon – Dr Nihal Weerasena – was referred to the General Medical Council to answer charges of gross misconduct.

The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust finally admitted liability for Carrie´s injuries last year – just months before a Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service found Dr Weerasena guilty of eight charges of gross misconduct. A settlement of compensation for brain damage during surgery was subsequently agreed with the NHS Litigation Authority. Speaking after the claim has been resolved, Carrie´s mother told her local newspaper:

“Prior to the operation, Carrie was just like any other active nine-year old girl. She left me early on the day of the operation and came back from surgery that evening changed forever. I only received a letter of apology last year, some 13 years after the operation. I have always felt that they wanted to sweep this matter under the carpet. It has been horrendous for our family to lose Carrie in the way that we did. This has been exacerbated by the long battle we have had with the hospital to get recognition of their failings.”