Raheem was born in Iraq on 3 January 1978. When he was six months old he was diagnosed with a cardiac murmur and was referred to the Harefield Hospital for investigation and possible correction of Fallot’s Tatralogy.
Raheem’s parents brought him to the UK as a private patient. On 15 August 1978, he was admitted for cardiac catheterisation, a routine preliminary investigation to establish whether he was a suitable candidate for corrective surgery.
Raheem's pre-medication prior to the catheterisation included the drug omnopon, a morphine based opiod. Raheem was given 12mg of omnopon, almost three times the correct dose.
As a result, he suffered from the characteristic features of an overdose including drowsiness, cyanosis, poor respiration and hypoxia. The procedure had begun at 12pm and by 7.30pm his neurological condition had deteriorated to the extent that there were signs of severe and by now irreversible brain damage.
The following day Raheem’s leg was recorded as “definitely bluer” and on 30 August 1978, he underwent a through knee joint right leg amputation.
The operation to correct the Fallot’s Tatralogy had to be postponed and was eventually carried out successfully on 27 November 1978.
In the months and years that followed, it became clear that Raheem had suffered catastrophic diffuse brain damage and that he was severely handicapped. He made minimal development and progress and although he has matured to the size of and weight of a man, his abilities have remained those of a very young baby.
Raheem is very severely disabled mentally and physically and is totally dependent on his parents for all care. He has no use of speech and makes only occasional comprehensible noises. He has negligible vision and is registered blind. He is doubly incontinent. His right arm has a stiff spastic posture and he uses his left arm by preference.
Liability was strenuously denied by the hospital, both at the time of the surgery and during the initial correspondence with the hospital.
However on 16 July 2002 some twenty-four years after Raheem’s birth and some two years after the initial letter of complaint, liability was admitted.
Nevertheless, the hospital’s advisors continued to fight on quantum of damages, arguing in particular that Raheem had a low life expectation.
The matter came before Mr Justice Astill in December 2003. After two days of argument the defendants finally made an offer in the sum of £5 million, which was approved by the court on 15 December 2003.
The case was conducted by Paul McNeil with the assistance of Legal Aid.
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