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Losing A Baby Due To Medical Negligence

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Labour TD Alan Kelly is introducing a bill to try and provide compensation to parents whose child is stillborn as a result of medical negligence.

Under the current law families can be compensated if their baby is born with a medical condition due to negligence, or if they subsequently die, but stillbirths are not covered.

The bill is a response to the case of one couple who lost their baby almost six years ago. Mignon and Derek Underwood's son Conor was stillborn in September 2012 as a result of unmonitored pre-eclampsia.

Mignon says there is still a lot of emotional pain: "I've cried a lot today. The emotions are very close to the surface."

"When you lose a child, it's all the 'should have beens'. Every milestone is very hard."

Mignon developed symptoms of pre-eclampsia at 28 weeks, which included swelling. She says, "The only way to stop it is to deliver the child. In a normal case they would monitor you very closely, but that wasn't the case."

Her consultant at Wexford General Hospital told her she was having a difficult pregnancy but that it wasn't pre-eclampsia. However, her GP subsequently diagnosed it and admitted her.

Mignon was discharged and sent home, and when she went back for a scan, she learned that Conor had died. She had to go through the added trauma of delivering him by Caesarean Section.

Derek explains that, eight weeks after losing Conor, they had a follow-up meeting with the consultant, who admitted that Mignon had pre-eclampsia.

They sought to take legal action, and it took almost four years for the resulting High Court case to be settled. Mignon says they only settled because of the cost to them: "Our house was on the line, our children's future was on the line."

Mignon suffered post-traumatic stress as a result of what happened, and to this day she can't drive past Wexford Hospital.

She and Derek have since had a daughter, and she travelled to Holles Street to have her rather than going back to Wexford.

Despite her emotional suffering, it was determined that it "wasn't too bad" because she hadn't tried to take her own life. She also points out that the law doesn't acknowledge the father's emotional distress at all.

Alan Kelly feels very strongly that the bill, which will be known as Conor's Law, should be supported across the board. "This is for future people who will find themselves in these circumstances."

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