Abbey (not her really name) was born three months premature. At the time, doctors did not tell her parents that their newborn little girl had severe anemia or that her body was not producing adequate red blood cells. It wasn’t until after being discharged from the hospital, that Abbey was diagnosed with Diamond Blackfan Anemia, and later went into anemic shock, during which she suffered diffuse brain damage. This diffuse brain damage led to Abbey developing developmental delays, cortical visual impairment and she is prone towards seizures. She is mostly blind, unable to walk or speak, and is tube-fed through her stomach. Abbey receives extensive rehabilitation therapy and medical care, takes numerous medications, and was hospitalized nine times between January 2009 and January 2010, alone. She needs blood transfusions every three weeks and is on a list for a bone marrow transplant.
The family filed a medical malpractice lawsuit alleging that Abbey’s debilitating brain injury is due to doctors failing to diagnose and treat the genetic brain disorder. A jury issued a verdict last week and awarded the family $14.5 million.
“This verdict means that we can start looking at options to see just how far we can go to providing [Abbey] with a life that is as normal as possible,” her mother said in a statement. “Options that we never would have been able to afford. I will be able to hire a caregiver to work on her walking every day, to coordinate the tons of medical appointments she requires. We will be able to buy specialized equipment to help her to walk and communicate.”
Congratulations to this family and their attorney for a hard fought victory. Compensation will not make the child well; nothing can do that, but the cost of caring for a severely disabled child should be borne by those who caused that disability, not by the innocent victims. This verdict and settlement will assure that the child’s care needs are covered and that she will receive the best care possible under the circumstances. This is what serious litigation should be about: appropriate and sensible compensation for the victim; accountability, responsibility and future prevention incentive for the perpetrator. All seems to have been achieved with this result.
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