Couple settles case against HSE over death of three-day-old baby

Cian Hunt died in his parent’s arms in 2018 after being transferred to a Dublin hospital to reduce brain swelling

Cian Hunt died in his parent’s arms on October 6th, 2018, in a Dublin hospital to which he had been transferred for specialist treatment to reduce his brain swelling.

A couple who sued over the death of their baby three days after his birth at Mayo University Hospital has settled a High Court action against the HSE.

Cian Hunt died in the arms of his parents Breda and David Hunt on October 6th, 2018, in a Dublin hospital to which he had been transferred for specialist treatment to reduce his brain swelling.

The terms of the settlement are confidential and without an admission of liability. The case was before the court for the division of the statutory €35,000 mental distress payment only.

The family’s barrister, Bruce Antoniotti SC, instructed by Rachael Liston solicitor, told the court the family, from Ballaghaderreen, Co Mayo, had suffered two stillbirths before Cian’s death.

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Counsel said it was their case that the hospital should have learned from these stillborn births, which were also at the Castlebar hospital. Had the hospital done this, Cian’s death could have been avoided, the family’s case contended.

He said a plan to admit Ms Hunt to hospital for a caesarean section at 36 weeks was allegedly changed in favour of a natural delivery.

A decision was then made at 8.30 am on October 3rd, 2018, for a caesarean section, and the mother was transferred to theatre at 9.20 am.

Cian was delivered at 10.10am and, counsel said, he was in very poor condition. He was airlifted to a Dublin hospital but died there on October 6th, 2018.

In her statement to the court, Ms Hunt said losing their son Cian after their previous two losses brought with it another layer of grief “that no one can even begin to understand”.

She added: “Not a day goes by that we don’t wonder what Cian would be like, who he would look like, and how different our lives would be if he were here.”

She said they were pleased that since Cian’s death, changes have been made in Mayo University Hospital.

“We hope that they continue to look back on our story and continue to learn from it and make changes to better the maternity service,” she said.

She said they were also glad there had been a recommendation made around the formalising of ongoing foetal monitoring after a failed induction in the period prior to a caesarean section.

“While these changes are welcomed it doesn’t change the sad reality that our arms are still empty and hearts still broken,” she told the judge.

In their action against the Health Service Executive (HSE), they claimed there was a failure to properly recognise or consider Ms Hunt’s obstetric history of placental abruption and hypercoiling in two pregnancies resulting in stillbirths at 36 and 38 weeks and that it presented a recognised increased risk of sudden unexpected and unpreventable foetal complications.

It was further claimed there was a failure in the light of all this to make a sufficient plan for the delivery in a safe and timely manner.

All the claims were denied, and the HSE contended the care given was appropriate. Mr Justice Paul Coffey offered his deepest sympathy to the family.