Irish couple to receive damages over advice that led to unnecessary abortion

A couple in Ireland are to be awarded damages for being mistakenly told their unborn baby had a fatal foetal abnormality, which led them to terminate the pregnancy.

The high court in Dublin will consider the damages to be paid to Rebecca Price and Patrick Kiely on Wednesday after medical personnel and institutions involved in the case admitted liability.

Price said she had suffered all-consuming physical and mental trauma since discovering she had unnecessarily terminated her pregnancy what would would have been her first child, a boy to be named Christopher Joseph Kiely.

A lawyer representing Merrion Fetal Health Clinic, one of the defendants, called it a “terribly sad” case.

The couple, from Dublin, said they were delighted to discover on Christmas Eve 2018 that Price was pregnant. An ultrasound scan on 21 February 2019 at the Merrion fetal health clinic – a business partnership run by the consultants Peter McParland, Fionnuala McAuliffe, Rhona Mahony, Shane Higgins and Stephen Carroll – was normal.

Price said she was advised to have a prenatal check known as a Harmony test, and was told a week later the foetus had trisomy 18, also known as Edwards’ syndrome, a rare and serious condition usually fatal before or soon after birth. A sample sent to the Greater Glasgow Health Board for analysis also showed evidence of trisomy 18.

Price and Kiely said they had been told the pregnancy was not viable and that there was no point in waiting for the results of a more comprehensive chromosomal analysis. An abortion was carried out at the National Maternity hospital in Dublin on 14 March 2019.

The subsequent chromosomal analysis showed that the foetus did not have trisomy 18, which the court heard was explained by abnormal cells being confined to the placenta.

The couple claimed there was a failure to refer them for appropriate genetic counselling and that they were wrongly told the discordant result would not have changed advice to terminate the pregnancy.

The couple sued the Merrion clinic consultants, the National Maternity hospital and the Scottish laboratory. The defendants conceded liability on Tuesday.

Lawyers for Price said the realisation that she had aborted a “normal, healthy baby” caused intense, nervous shock and left her with a devastating sense of loss.



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