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'Life destroyed' Man left with life-changing injuries after cancer went undiagnosed for 7 years gets €1.5m

This treatment left me with permanent and life-changing injuries which wouldn't have happened had the HSE acted on the information they knew in 2009.”

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 Gino Appezzato (50), from Muckalee, Co. Kilkenny, speaking to media outside the Four Courts where he settled his action over a delay in cancer diagnosis. PIC: Collins Courts

Gino Appezzato (50), from Muckalee, Co. Kilkenny, speaking to media outside the Four Courts where he settled his action over a delay in cancer diagnosis. PIC: Collins Courts

Gino Appezzato (50), from Muckalee, Co. Kilkenny, speaking to media outside the Four Courts where he settled his action over a delay in cancer diagnosis. PIC: Collins Courts

The HSE and two hospitals have apologised to a father of four after his cancer tumour went undiagnosed for nearly seven years.

Gino Appezzato, as he settled his action for €1.55m, said it had destroyed his life and he had at that time been "utterly let down" by the Irish health system.

"The seven-year delay in my cancer diagnosis meant that I needed highly aggressive treatment to save my life.

“This treatment left me with permanent and life-changing injuries which wouldn't have happened had the HSE acted on the information they knew in 2009”, he said.

His counsel Dr John O'Mahony SC, with Cian O'Mahony BL, told the court it was a profoundly tragic case.

Mr Appezzato, Muckalee, Co Kilkenny, had first gone to St Luke's General Hospital in Kilkenny in 2009 for a scan as he was complaining of lower back pain.

The October 2009 scan showed a small mass about 1.3cms in size between his aorta and interior vena cava but Counsel said it was incorrectly identified as a lymph node.

Counsel said it was not followed up and it was their case, if it had, the cancer would have been diagnosed and appropriate steps would have been taken.

Mr Appezzato was reviewed in St Luke's Hospital in November 2009 and referred to University Hospital Waterford where he was seen and reviewed in December 2009, May 2010 and January 2011, but he was assured there was no reason for concern.

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Gino Appezzato (50), from Muckalee, Co. Kilkenny, with his wife Kelli, speaking to media outside the Four Courts  where he settled his action over a delay in cancer diagnosis. PIC: Collins Courts

Gino Appezzato (50), from Muckalee, Co. Kilkenny, with his wife Kelli, speaking to media outside the Four Courts where he settled his action over a delay in cancer diagnosis. PIC: Collins Courts

Gino Appezzato (50), from Muckalee, Co. Kilkenny, with his wife Kelli, speaking to media outside the Four Courts where he settled his action over a delay in cancer diagnosis. PIC: Collins Courts

He was referred back to St Luke's Hospital in August 2015 as he had recurrent pain.

Counsel said the situation was allowed to drift on but a CT scan in January 2016 showed a very large mass in the abdominal region which was now between 10 and 13cms big.

Dr O'Mahony said the tumour had gone from being the size of an olive to the size of a mid size fist.

"The view was it was inoperable and it was thought he would have to live and die with it but he had ground-breaking surgery at St Vincent's Hospital Dublin which lasted ten hours," counsel said.

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Before the surgery Mr Appezzato underwent chemotherapy to shrink the tumour.During the ten-hour long surgery in May 2016, Counsel said Mr Appezzato suffered cardiac arrest and shock therapy was required to save his life.

In a statement which counsel read to the court, Mr Appezzato said his life had been destroyed.

“My brain is broken. My body is broken. I lost my business and livelihood because the HSE did not tell me on two occasions that I had cancer,” the 50-year-old said.

However, Mr Appezzato said after he was diagnosed with the rare malignant tumour in January 2016, the care he received from the HSE was “impeccable.”

He praised the medical teams in St Vincent's Hospital, Dublin who operated on him and said it was the “reason I am alive today.”

In the witness box he told the court it has been a horrendous time for him and his family.

"This is now closure so we can move forward and get on with it," he said.

Mr Justice Paul Coffey said it was "an extraordinary story that the health service that nearly killed him was the same health service that saved his life."

Mr Appezzato has lived in Kilkenny since moving to Ireland from Brisbane, Australia with his family over 21 years ago.

Two letters of apology were read to the High Court. The first on behalf of the HSE and St |Luke's General Hospital, Kilkenny said it would like to express “an unreserved apology” to Mr Appezzato and his family “for the failings in care.”

In the second letter read to the court, University Hospital Waterford said it wished to “apologise unreservedly for the deficits in your care and acknowledge the distress this has caused to you and your family.”

Mr Appezzato had sued the HSE which admitted a breach of duty in that the first CT scan of October 2009 demonstrated sufficient findings to require a follow up with cross-sectional imaging and this was not done.

It was also admitted that had Mr Appezato's cancer been detected earlier he would as a matter of probability have required surgery only.

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