As a young child, Luke was diagnosed with a congenital heart condition known as bicuspid aortic valve (BAV). He was fitted with a mechanical aortic valve as a result. This put him at a significantly increased risk of developing a heart infection (endocarditis).
Luke was under the care of the cardio-thoracic clinic at University College Hospital (UCLH). At an appointment in 2013, he reported experiencing temperatures, night sweats, and shortness of breath - some of the classic symptoms of endocarditis. The consultant noted that further investigations were indicated in light of his mechanical valve, but these were not carried out. Two weeks later, Luke's condition had deteriorated so badly that he was admitted to A&E. He was disorientated and struggling to find words. He had been experiencing cramps, shivering, and hot and cold sweats for five weeks, and had woken that day with severe pain in the back of his head.
Luke had suffered a stroke. This was caused by infected heart tissue travelling up the bloodstream to his brain. Despite specialist neurosurgical intervention, he suffered a significant brain injury, resulting in permanent cognitive and motor impairment. The infection would have been detected weeks earlier had the proper tests been performed following his clinic appointment. After a seven-month hospital stay, Luke was discharged with life-changing disabilities. He is still unable to speak and requires significant assistance with everyday tasks.
The Trust admitted that negligent failures had been made in relation to Luke's clinic appointment, but argued that earlier treatment would not have prevented his brain injury. They maintained that, even with prompt antibiotic treatment, the tragic outcome could not have been avoided. Due to limited medical research, this claim was difficult to disprove. Despite this, Jonathan Zimmern succeeded in obtaining a significant settlement for Luke of £1.7m. These funds will allow him to pay for the support he requires to live as independently as possible.
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