A YOUNG mother from Harrogate who is unable to have more children after losing her womb due to a hospital mistake has received £200,000 in damages.
Natasha Richardson, 26, was giving birth to her first child naturally, when doctors decided she needed a Caesarean section because there were problems with his heartbeat.
Despite Noah arriving on January 9 2013, at a healthy 6lbs 2oz, Ms Richardson was left in a condition which was to wreck her life.
Unknown to her or to doctors, surgeons at Leeds General Infirmary had accidentally cut her while they were performing the operation. Because they were not aware of their error, she was stitched up while she was suffering internal bleeding.
Doctors soon realised what had happened as Ms Richardson was in severe pain, and she was transferred to intensive care and operated on.
But their failure to administer antibiotics after the C-section meant she developed a severe infection.
Ms Richardson, a doctor’s receptionist, was sent home five days after the second operation and she put her extreme weakness, fatigue and pain down to giving birth.
When she was rushed back to hospital, 10 days after the birth, they realised she had developed rare skin eating bacterial infection called necrotising fasciitis.
This bug had eaten away at her womb and surrounding stomach muscles and tissue.
She was transferred to St James’s Hospital, where they performed a hysterectomy.
Over the following months she had a further six operations to remove all of the bacteria, leaving her with a open wound in her stomach.
She had to remain in hospital attached to a vacuum machine to help her open wound heal.
Ms Richardson still suffers the consequences of the blunder, nearly four years later.
She said: “When I was in hospital Noah wasn’t allowed to see me at all for the first two weeks for fear I could catch an infection.
“I couldn’t breastfeed and I missed my baby.
“In the end they moved me to a side room on my own so my family could bring him in to see me because I started to feel depressed, even then I couldn’t hold him properly.
“I was very poorly.
“I am pleased that the hospital have acknowledged what they did wrong but to think that all I needed was antibiotics is heartbreaking.
“I can’t believe what I have been through for them missing something so simple.”
Ms Richardson says she is sad that Noah may never have a brother and sister.
She said: “It was always our intention to have three children,” said Natasha. “And now that will not happen.
“We have thought that we could have surrogacy because they didn’t remove my ovaries and so they can use my eggs, but that is still a big thing for me to get my head round and already Noah is almost four.
“We would like to think we might have already had another child by now, we didn’t want such a big age gap.
“Even if we started the process for surrogacy we wouldn’t have another baby for a couple of years.
“It is sad to think about what we could have had.
“And I’ve only just started to think about this, in the early days I could only think about healing.”
Ms Richardson, who is unable to lift her son, added: “I can’t do normal things with him. I haven’t got any stomach muscles so that effects what I can do and I certainly can’t pick him up.
“If he jumps on me it is very painful.
“I can’t go anywhere alone with him, I need help so I can have someone to carry him. But he knows that I can’t carry him.”
Natasha now faces a mammoth operation in which surgeons with conduct three procedures to repair the hernia, reconstruct her stomach and to perform plastic surgery.”
During the investigation into Natasha’s care, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust admitted Ms Richardson should have been prescribed with antibiotics within an hour of the initial Caesarean operation and that had this been done she would not have developed the infection and the extensive surgery she underwent and the hysterectomy operation would have been avoided.
Lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have now secured her the six-figure sum from the NHS Trust.
Rebecca Pearey, an expert medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office, said: “The failures to prescribe antibiotics at the crucial time have clearly had a massive and devastating impact on Natasha as she has had to rethink the plans she had for her family and her working life.
“Natasha has undergone a number of invasive and complex surgeries to correct the problems caused by the failure to administer antibiotics following her C-section.
“Understandably, the prospect of surrogacy in the future, rather than conceiving children naturally, has caused a great deal of stress and anxiety for Natasha and Jamie.
“Natasha was in a great deal of pain for some time after each of the operations she has been through and the ordeal has also had a psychological impact on her and her family.
“The Trust has admitted liability for the problems Natasha has faced, which has come as a relief to her, but she is also keen to ensure the Trust learns from this incident and puts steps in place so that this doesn’t happen to anybody else.”
Professor Suzanne Hinchliffe, Chief Nurse and Deputy Chief Executive at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “On behalf of the Trust I would like to express our sincere apologies to Ms Richardson and her family.
“This was an extremely tragic case and we have looked carefully at what occurred and made changes to our caesarean clinical guidelines as a result.”