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Parents of premature baby who died after heart was accidentally pierced settle court action

Laoise Kavanagh Ni Scolai, a twin, was only 42 hours and 27 minutes old when she died after her heart was penetrated with plastic tubing

Cóilín Ó’Scolaí with his wife, Irene Kavanagh speaking outside High Court (Pic Collins Court)© Collins Court

Coilín O Scolai with his wife, Irene Kavanagh outside the High Court today (Pic Collins Court)© Collins Court


The parents of a premature baby who died after her heart was accidentally pierced during a chest drain procedure in hospital have settled a High Court action over her death.

Baby Laoise Kavanagh Ni Scolai, a twin, was only 42 hours and 27 minutes old when she died after her heart was penetrated with plastic tubing while an attempt was being made to insert a chest drain at the Coombe Hospital in Dublin.

The Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital admitted liability in the case.

Her father Cóilín Ó’Scolaí was close to tears in court as he spoke about the family’s “long and arduous legal battle to uncover the truth” of how this happened to their daughter.

“This has been a very long and painful journey that could have been avoided. Something needs to change,” he said.

He told Mr Justice Paul Coffey: “We were lied to from the moment Laoise died and continued to be lied to for many years after her death. In our opinion they cared about Laoise until the moment she died, then they cared more about the reputation of the Coombe Hospital.”

He said for the next number of weeks, months and years, Laoise’s own life history was changed.

They were told she had been the weaker twin, whereas when the babies were born, they were told she was the stronger of the two.

“It was particularly galling to us that Laoise’s short life of 42 hours and 27 minutes was now being rewritten. This was cruel and unforgivable,” he said in the statement on behalf of himself and his wife Irene Kavanagh.

Mr Ó’Scolaí said the way in which their family was treated after their baby’s death and “the betrayal of trust was extraordinarily shocking”.

“It continues to be a great source of distress to us and compounded our suffering at a time when we were already trying to cope with the death of our daughter and to grieve,” he told the judge.

Laoise’s twin brother Cuan, he said, is growing up without his twin sister and they live with her loss every day.

“When they pierced her heart, they broke ours. Our little girl who we wanted for so long and loved so dearly was dead.”

Fighting back tears Mr Ó’Scolaí said the couple from Drimnagh, Dublin found themselves in a legal process because “we could not get to the truth of what actually happened to Laoise and it took tremendous fight on our part to get to that truth.”

He added: “Even after we got to some truth at the inquest it still took four months to admit liability, again adding to our pain and suffering.

“Then, even after admission of liability, we were told that we had to prove that we were affected by our baby’s death.

“The cruelty of their actions we can never forgive.”

Laoise’s parents said the legal process was also a harsh and gruelling fight.

Mr Ó’Scolaí told the judge that had the hospital “held up their hands at the beginning, admitted their wrongdoing and assured us that this would never happen again, we would have been saved of this pain and torment.”

He said it would have allowed them “to move forward, to grieve our daughter a lot sooner”.

Instead, he told the court it has taken eight years to get to this point.

“This has been a very long and painful journey that could have been avoided. Something needs to change,” he concluded.

Their solicitor Stuart Gilhooly SC told the court the case had been settled for substantial sums.

The terms of the settlement are confidential..

Laoise and her twin brother Cuán were born by caesarean section on January 2, 2015. Both developed respiratory distress.

They were diagnosed as having developed a build-up of air in the pleural cavity.

A decision was made to insert a chest drain to relieve pressure on the infant’s heart and lungs.

Laoise deteriorated quickly and after being transferred to another hospital. She was pronounced dead at 4.45pm on January 24, 2015.

An inquest into Laoise’s death heard new guidelines have since been introduced at The Coombe Hospital in relation to the particular technique used for the insertion of the drain.

Irene Kavanagh and her husband Cóilín Ó’Scolaí of Comeragh Road, Drimnagh, Dublin had sued The Coombe over the death of their daughter on January 24, 2015.

It was claimed Laoise’s parents suffered post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the death.

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