Mother tells court of exhaustion caring for profoundly disabled son

Judge approves substantial payment over circumsances of birth at hospital in Cork

Grace Kearney, mother of Mark Kearney pictured at the Four Courts  for a High Court action. Photograph: Collins Courts

Grace Kearney, mother of Mark Kearney pictured at the Four Courts for a High Court action. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

A mother has told the High Court of the physical and mental exhaustion in caring for her nine-year-old brain damaged son who is spastic quadriplegic, cannot speak and is almost blind.

Mark Kearney Clifford, from Arcnacloughy, Ballylickey, Bantry, Co Cork, is “most profoundly disabled”, the court was told as it approved a further substantial interim payment under a settlement of his action over the circumstances of his birth at Cork University Maternity Hospital.

Through his mother Grace Kearney, the boy had sued the HSE over the circumstances of his birth on March 13th 2010. It was claimed there was failure to perform a Caesarean section in sufficient time or at all to prevent the baby from suffering from hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy.

It was also alleged there was failure to cause the CTG scan or other pre-natal monitoring results to be properly interpreted or otherwise reviewed by an experienced consultant in time or at all.

The claims are denied.

On Wednesday, when approving the interim payment for the next five years, Mr Justice Kevin Cross thanked Mark’s parents and their families for the boy’s care and wished them the best for the future.

In a letter to the judge, Grace Kearney said her son has taught herself and her husband Darren “to take every day as it comes and be grateful for the love we are surrounded by, but it has also left us both mentally and physically exhausted.”

She added: “I am tired of the fighting for justice for Mark. Darren and I want to leave the court today and return home to be the best parents to Mark and his siblings that we can be.”

She spoke of the demands of looking after Mark who suffers daily epileptic seizures and needs 24 hour care.

“Mark’s needs require that one of us is predominantly taking care of him, while the other parent is looking after the needs of our three other children. Simple things like sitting down and eating meals together and bedtime routines are unattainable. It is very isolating when you are so caught up in juggling to be the best carers we can be to Mark, while also trying to function as a normal family unit.”

She said, while the family’s lives had changed forever after Mark’s birth, he has brought “so much joy and love to our family. He has taught us so much, but his condition has also brought so much pain and devastation.”

She added: “I am grateful for the little boy we have in Mark as he has brought us more love then we knew possible, but every day I grieve for the baby I didn’t bring home. The little boy who should have called mamma and dadda. Every milestone is a reminder of what we lost.

“We are so proud of Mark and all his achievements and we make sure to cuddle and kiss him every day always reminding him of just how loved he is.”

Her only wish now, she said, is to be able “to close this chapter” and try and get on with “the life we have been dealt without the worry and stress the proceedings have brought.

“I can assure you that, as parents, we are devoted to our beautiful, amazing son Mark and we will do everything in our power to ensure he is happy, loved and cared for, as he so deserves for the rest of his life . He is our life and he could not be more loved.”

Dr John O’Mahony SC, for the boy, said it was a profoundly tragic case but the care given to Mark by his parents and grandparents was fantastic.