Settlement of €9.4m for girl (12) with paraplegia

Aimee Brennan had spinal operation at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin

A 12-year-old girl paralysed from the chest down allegedly after an operation for curvature of her spine has settled her High Court action for €9.4million.

Aimee Brennan had the operation at Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin, Dublin when she was six years old. She now has paraplegia and has to use a wheelchair.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told the case was a very complex one and the settlement is without admission of liability.

Liam Reidy SC told the court Aimee had curvature of the spine and had an independent life before the operation. The surgery was necessary as Aimee was not breathing properly, he said.


Counsel said the surgery involved the insertion of an anchor system and implants along the spine using pedicle screws. It was their case the screws had been allegedly misplaced.

He said an updated MRI scan would have provided a road map for the surgery.

The hospital denied all the claims and contended the screws did not cause damage and the injuries could have been explained by a stroke which is a known complication of this type of surgery.

Aimee's mother Jacinta Brennan told the court she is a great child who " has been through so much but always has a smile on her face". .

In an affidavit Mrs Brennan said her daughter was never able to walk again after the operation and she has no power or sensation from below chest level.

Aimee Brennan , Wolfhill, Co Laois had sued Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, Dublin through her mother .

It was claimed that Aimee had a necessary operation on September 29th, 2014 during which she was allegedly caused to suffer an injury to her spinal cord resulting in paraplegia.

After she was born in 2008, Aimee had to have spine casting and bracing and had her first spinal surgery when she was three.

Other surgery followed and in August 2014 she was admitted to the Dublin hospital for four weeks of gravity traction in preparation for her spinal surgery.

It is claimed that in early September her parents were informed of a new device from the United States which could be used to treat Aimee's condition. The Brennans it was claimed were told the person who designed the new anchor type system would attend the surgery.

Three days before the operation Aimee’s mother was informed the curve of the spine was very severe and was causing pressure on Aimee’s lungs and the operation was needed to save her life.

It is claimed no risks or alternative options to the proposed surgery were mentioned to Mrs Brennan.

The surgery was performed on September 29th, 2014 and Aimee returned from the operation still on traction and was admitted to the intensive care unit. Her father Alan stayed with her overnight and noticed Aimee complained of pins and needles in her legs at about 4.30am.

A nursing note of 6am recorded that Aimee was not complying with requests to move her lower limbs. An urgent MRI scan was carried out and the girl was brought back to theatre where a hematoma was evacuated during an operation which lasted over six hours.

It is claimed in relation to the main operation there was alleged negligence in adopting a surgical strategy which was not allegedly indicated and which did not allow for more conservative approaches to Aimee’s condition.

There was, it was further claimed, an alleged failure to inform the mother adequately or at all of the material risks of the proposed surgery .

There was also alleged failure to carry out pre-operative advanced imaging to present a road map to guide the placement of critical high-risk implants in surgery. The claims were denied.

Aimee had a very difficult time after the operations and suffered pain and discomfort. She wasn’t discharged from the ICU until October of that year and discharged home in mid December.

She had to go to the National Rehabilitation Hospital in February of 2015 and was there until May that year.

Aimee’s mother said her daughter continues to get excellent care in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin.

Approving the €9.4 million settlement, Mr Justice Cross said it was a very good one.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times