Omodele Meadows, aged 40, recently received nine million pounds in compensation for the wrongful birth of Adejuwon, her six year old son. Four years before Meadows became pregnant, she went to a doctor for a test of whether she had the haemophilia gene. She was worried about getting pregnant, because she had just found out that one of her relatives had this gene.
She was assured by her doctor that she did not have the gene, which was a mistake, as she did carry it. This caused her child to be born with haemophilia. He is also autistic, and is said to be suffering from an ‘aggressive form’ of the two.
Meadows herself has said that, if she knew her child would have haemophilia, she would have had an abortion. This was because she knew about her nephew’s condition, who had haemophilia. The condition caused ‘repeated bleeds’, and her nephew needed to be ‘constantly watched’ to prevent the most minor of injuries.
Meadows proceeded to sue the GP who gave her incorrect results, Dr Hafshah Khan. The doctor’s lawyers ‘admitted that, but for her negligence, Adejuwon would not have been born.’ The doctor had not ordered the blood test, only telling Meadows the result. A judge said that it ‘cannot have been easy’ for the doctor to admit her failure.
Lawyers for the GP agreed to give Meadows compensation of £1.4 million for the costs of dealing with her child’s haemophilia. However, they refused to give her any money to help with his autism. Now, the High Court judge, Mrs Justice Yip, has awarded Meadows the full compensation of £9 million. This is a record payout for a wrongful birth claim.
Meadows argued that her son’s autism made his haemophilia even more difficult to treat. On the other hand, the doctor’s lawyers said that Adejuwon’s autism is unrelated to his haemophilia. Therefore, they argued that the doctor should not be punished for ‘bad luck’.
The judge decided that the boy would not have been born if not for the doctor’s negligence. Therefore, the doctor must take responsibility for the child’s autism and haemophilia.
A Touchy Subject
The judge added that Meadows clearly loved her son. She said that Meadows had only made the claim ‘to provide a better life for her son’.
The judge also said ‘I recognise that this case involves highly emotive matters…The fact that she says clearly that she would have terminated her pregnancy had she known the baby would have haemophilia is not the same at all as saying that Adejuwon is now an unwanted child. On the contrary, it appears that he is much loved and cared for. The burden of caring for him though is much greater than the burden of caring for a normal healthy child and this extends far beyond purely financial cost. Although this is a claim for her loss, I do not doubt that the mother’s primary motive in bringing the claim is to provide a better life for her son.’