Hospital apologises for failings in care of baby that died at four days old

‘We have been left with a grave to visit instead of a son to raise,’ say parents of Alfie O’Reilly

Aidan and Amanda O Reilly stand outside the Four Courts after they received an apology from the HSE after the death of their baby Alfie. Photograph: Collins Courts

The parents of a baby boy who died at Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) have said an apology over their son’s death came four years too late.

Alfie O’Reilly from Midleton, Co Cork, was four days old when he died in his father’s arms at CUMH on July 25th, 2020.

Alfie’s parents, Amanda and Aidan O’Reilly, were in court as the settlement of their action against the Health Service Executive (HSE) over their son’s death.

Their senior counsel, Jonathan Kilfeather, instructed by Michael Boylan Litigation, said the HSE admitted liability in the action that claimed a delay in delivering by Caesarean section had caused or contributed to Alfie’s death.


An apology on behalf of CUMH and its staff was read to the High Court by HSE senior counsel Luan O’Braonain.

The letter expressed “heartfelt sympathies and condolences” and apologised “unreservedly and sincerely for the failings in care” during the course of the feto-maternal haemorrhage “that caused the death” of Alfie.

The hospital said it did not underestimate how traumatic it has been for the O’Reillys and wished to acknowledge its enduring impact on them.

Ms O’Reilly told Mr Justice Míchéal P O’Higgins that they had to ask for the apology and it has come almost four years too late.

She added: “The apology once again attempts to refute liability by laying reference to the feto maternal haemorrhage that Alfie experienced. How can an apology over the liability for the death of our child be so insincere?”

She told the judge it was insulting and she and her husband did not accept it.

She said that as well as enduring the grief and trauma following the death of their son, they had to endure an almost four-year legal battle.

She added: “Throughout the legal process, Alfie’s short life and tragic death has not been shown the dignity it deserves, and this is something that has been incredibly distressing for Aidan and I.

“It has been clear from the outset that the aim of the HSE and the State Claims Agency has been to settle out of court, however they prolonged the process unnecessarily in what felt like an attempt to beat us down”.

She told the judge Alfie was born into a family who already loved him immensely. Alfie was “so wanted, so adored and he is so tragically missed,” including by his big sister Emilia.

Mr Justice O’Higgins noted the settlement and the division of the statutory mental distress payment of €35,000. He said Ms O’Reilly’s remarks had been heartfelt and he hoped the family would find solace in the finalisation of the proceedings. He said it was important for the court and legal practitioners to get feedback.

In a statement outside the Four Courts, the O’Reillys said their son’s death and their legal battle has shattered their trust in the health and justice systems.

“While the legal process ends here and the HSE and the State Claims Agency can put Alfie’s death behind them, we are forced to look forward and attempt to honour him as we live the rest of our lives. We have been left with a grave to visit instead of a son to raise,” they said.

“It has been clear that neither us nor Alfie have held any importance to the HSE or the State Claims Agency, which considering the admission of liability is insulting. We can only ask that they treat families and our situation with more dignity in the future,” the O’Reillys added.