Manchester

Kernicterus brain disease boy Dilraj Singh wins payout

Dilraj Singh Image copyright Urrvashi Kothari-Tailor
Image caption Dilraj Singh has been left with cerebral palsy, is blind and cannot speak after developing a brain disease called Kernicterus

A mother whose son was left brain damaged after midwives allegedly failed to act on signs of jaundice has won compensation at the High Court.

Urrvashi Singh claimed midwives from Trafford General Hospital did not carry out thorough checks, which led to son Dilraj developing further illness.

Hospital bosses settled proceedings but have not admitted liability.

The court heard the trust was working with the family's legal team on the payout to cover Dilraj's care costs.

Seven-year-old Dilraj developed a jaundice-related brain disease called Kernicterus and has been left blind, unable to speak and with cerebral palsy.

'Entirely preventable'

Ms Singh said that during two home visits she told midwives "something wasn't right" but they did not check her son for jaundice.

When Dilraj lost weight and returned to hospital he was diagnosed and Ms Singh was told he had an hour to live.

Eddie Jones, a specialist brain injury lawyer at JMW Solicitors, said: "The real pity of this case is that the brain damage sustained by Dilraj was entirely preventable if he had been given the right treatment at the right time.

"Jaundice is a common condition in newborns and, whilst in rare cases the consequences can be serious, it is treatable. Sadly, the mistakes made have had a catastrophic impact on Dilraj's life and the lives of the rest of his family."

Image copyright Urrvashi Kothari-Tailor
Image caption Urrvashi Singh said the injuries her son Dilraj suffered "could easily have been avoided"

This case is one of a number of similar claims across the country, he added.

Ms Singh, 37 and from Stretford, said she had to give up her job as a nursery nurse to care for her son and has called for a national screening programme to identify cases.

No routine screening

She said: "More needs to be done to ensure that midwives are alert to the signs that babies such as Dilraj are in danger of contracting Kernicterus.

"There were opportunities missed to help my son. If only the link between jaundice and the risk of brain damage had been made early enough, something could have been done."

In 2006, the government's former Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson, called for a national Kernicterus register and routine screening to prevent the condition occurring.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said there is currently no such register as it is a very rare condition.

"We screen for rhesus disease which is the main cause of severe neonatal jaundice which can lead to Kernicterus. This is led by midwives," she said.

"All midwives should be fully aware of the signs of neonatal jaundice and what to do about it."

A spokesman for Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: "Following detailed investigations into the circumstances surrounding Dilraj's treatment, a compromise was reached in respect of liability.

"We are satisfied that a settlement has been reached and we wish Dilraj and his family well for the future."

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