On Tuesday 17 March 2009 Damian was admitted to King’s College Hospital so that he could undergo liver re-transplantation surgery. The surgery was successful and after spending some time in the intensive care unit Damian was transferred to the ward.
On Monday 23 March 2009 a nurse was asked to remove a central line (this is an intravenous catheter placed at the time of transplant in the front of the chest). The agency nurse who conducted this procedure did so whilst Damian was in an upright position. A subsequent note from her mentioned she “had not removed one before”. In a statement Damian described the immediate aftermath as follows:
“A moment later I heard a gurgling sound and simultaneously felt the sensation of air going into my vein. My head dropped and I instantly realised that this was serious. I felt I was dying and said so. I must have blacked out because the next thing I remember was having an oxygen mask on my face and the sound of different voices.”
In fact the central line should have been removed whilst Damian was in the supine position. The defendant admitted this in an open letter in June 2010 after we had been instructed. Sadly, the negligence resulted in an injury to Damian’s brain – in the form of hypoxic brain damage in the watershed regions. In addition Damian suffered visual deficit, severe upper and lower limb dysfunction with spasms and spasticity. As a result Damian has severe difficulties in walking, instability and weakness of the pelvis and significant pain and fatigue. Damian is married and the father of twin boys who were born a few days before the liver surgery. He worked internationally as an architect on high profile cases for Foster + Partners. Damian suffered from a number of underlying conditions which had necessitated the liver re-transplantation in the first place. Nevertheless, the injuries he received on 23 March 2009 were devastating and ended Damian’s career as an architect. He now requires significant support from carers and his family as well as many therapists to maximise his physical condition. Cognitively Damian has done exceptionally well.
Proceedings were issued on his behalf in May 2011 and a trial was fixed for 21 November 2012. The defence served by King’s College Hospital admitted liability and the trial was limited to the amount of compensation that Damian should recover. We obtained reports from many specialisms’ including neurology, hepatology, neuro psychology, psychiatry, care, occupational therapy, accommodation and physiotherapy. We also obtained interim payments on account of damages so as to fund care, case management and the ongoing provision of therapies.
Negotiations took place between the parties’ lawyers and a settlement was agreed in November 2012 just before the date for trial. Substantial damages were awarded to Damian both as a conventional lump sum and periodical payments to cover Damian’s ongoing need for care.
After the case Damian said:
“It was a real pleasure to meet Paul; he is a warm, empathic individual who exuded trustworthiness and confidence. Throughout the process my wife and I were completely reassured knowing that he was fighting my corner, whilst at the same time appreciated him shielding us from the unavoidable stresses of a legal battle.
The final outcome of the case means that, although I still have to contend with the daily challenge of living with disability and pain, without the fulfilment that comes from working as an architect, I now have the resources and support I need to help me, as a husband and father, to strive towards making our family life as fulfilling as possible. Paul has given us all hope of a future.”
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