Coma Mum Wins Right To Damages From NHS Trust In Berkshire

13 March 2015, 15:04 | Updated: 13 March 2015, 15:06

A mother of two who remains in a coma after giving birth to a third child who later died has won the right to damages against the NHS in Berkshire.

An NHS Trust said Christian Cooper, 46, was the victim of ``a significant and rare event which resulted in a tragic outcome'' and it hoped there would now be a settlement ``to make life easier for the family''.

Ms Cooper never regained consciousness after a heart attack, which occurred just days after the traumatic birth of a disabled son at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, in July 2005.

Mr Justice Jeremy Baker said that Ms Cooper, who lives in a nursing home, suffered brain damage and ``remained minimally responsive and under continual medical care''.

The judge said a legal action had been started on her behalf seeking damages from the Royal Berkshire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

It was alleged that her heart attack and consequent brain damage was the result of a cerebral vein thrombosis (CVT) caused, or contributed to, by the hospital's negligence.

The judge ruled that it was ``more likely than not'' that a CVT was responsible and it followed on the evidence that lawyers for Ms Cooper had established liability against the Trust.

The ruling opens the way for an assessment of the amount of damages Ms Cooper should receive - expected by legal experts to be in excess of £500,000.

The legal action was brought on her behalf by Ms Cooper's former partner, Julian Harrington.

At a recent hearing over five days, family QC John de Bono described how the heart attack occurred four days after Ms Cooper's son, Gene, was born with acute cerebral palsy. He died just before his second birthday.

It was her third pregnancy and there were severe complications after a caesarian section scar left by the previous birth ruptured.

Mr de Bono argued that Ms Cooper should have been advised of the danger of a rupture, which could have been averted had she undergone an ``elective'' caesarean section.

He also contended the risks of a thrombosis would also have been minimised had Ms Cooper received a heavier dose of blood-thinning drug, Heparin.

The Trust said after today's ruling: ``The Trust hopes that the outcome of the trial will result in a settlement which will make life easier for Christian's family whilst acknowledging that their lives have been significantly affected.

A spokeswoman said in a statement: ``The Trust would like to convey the sympathy of all of the staff involved at this sad outcome for Christian and her family.

``This was a case where the claimant, Christian Cooper, sadly suffered a significant and rare event that caused her to collapse in July 2005.

``The judge was asked to look at the possible causes of her collapse and to make a judgment by balancing the rarity of the different possible causes. It was a difficult case both for the family and for the Trust, and the Trust is sorry that there was a tragic outcome.

``The arguments that were put to the court were balanced arguments in relation to whether one rare event caused the collapse or whether in fact it was caused by another, also rare, event. It was always going to be, and was, a very difficult issue for the court to resolve.''