Brain-damaged girl has 'the advantage of loving parents and a loving family', says High Court judge (From Watford Observer)
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Brain-damaged girl, Lhana Bedoya, has 'the advantage of loving parents and a loving family', says High Court judge
The parents of a Watford girl left disabled from birth today won a glowing tribute from a High Court judge as she approved a multi-million pound NHS care and compensation package.
Lhana Bedoya, 10, of Garston, suffered a devastating period of oxygen starvation to her brain in the moments before she was delivered at Watford General Infirmary in January 2003.
It left her catastrophically disabled, with cerebral palsy, epilepsy, severe sight difficulties and prone to respiratory infections, meaning she will depend on round-the-clock care for the rest of her life.
Following her birth, her now divorced parents, Fabian and Ursula, launched a damages claim on her behalf against the NHS and on Friday accepted a settlement which will see her receive millions to fund her lifelong care.
Approving the compromise at the High Court, Mrs Justice Simler said: "I must pay tribute to the extraordinary care and attention that both Lhana's parents have paid to her throughout her life.
"They have, of course, sacrificed much of their own time and the pleasures and opportunities that those of us without such care and responsibility might be expected to have.
"They have devoted themselves to Lhana, providing her with a safe and loving environment and enabling her to make the progress she has been able to make to date.
"I'm certain that they will both continue to love and care for Lhana in the future, just as they have until now.
"It is clear to me from the papers I have read that Lhana has one great advantage in life - an advantage not all children have - that's the advantage of loving parents and a loving family in which to live."
Lhana's barrister, Robert Glancy QC, said the case against the NHS trust had originally been troubled by the fact that Lhana's mum suffered a fall on ice in a car park in the days before she went into labour.
But the West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust had accepted liability to pay damages when it was handed the expert evidence, he said.
Apologising for the trust's negligence, its barrister, Simon Readhead QC, said nothing could turn back the clock to before Lhana was damaged, but annual payments would cover the cost of her care for life.
"The trust hopes that that will give Lhana's parents the comfort of knowing that the care will be there for just as long as Lhana needs it," he told the court.
"The progress that Lhana has made to date is due in very large part to the quality of care and assistance she has received from her family, particularly her parents, who have provided her with a safe and loving environment."
Speaking afterwards, Lhana's dad, Fabian, said: "Lhana had the worst start to life as a result of the hospital’s mistakes and it has put a huge amount of stress and pressure on us as a family.
"Despite all of this, Lhana makes us smile and laugh every day. She loves being tickled and goes to a specialist school where she thrives in the sensory room. She also loves being around her two younger sisters and older half brother.
"I am now looking forward to being a dad to Lhana and not just a carer as the settlement means we will have funds to appoint full-time specialists to help her with all of her care needs.
"It is a huge relief to have the legal battle over and know that whatever the future holds and no matter what happens to Ursula and I now that we are divorced, Lhana will always have access to the best possible services and support."
Although the exact details of the settlement sums were not revealed, cases like Lhana's routinely result in many millions being paid out. The money will be managed by lawyers and spent to provide for her.
After the ruling Jackie Ardley, Chief Nurse for West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "There were clearly shortcomings in the care we provided to Lhana Bedoya in 2003 and I would like to express my sincere apologies to Lhana and her family on behalf of the trust.
"I am pleased that this claim has been settled and hope that it will ensure that Lhana has the best possible quality of life in the future."
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