Evie Toombes, the UK para-showjumper who has spina bifida, has won a case she instituted against Philip Mitchell, a doctor, over “wrong pre-conception advice” he gave to her mother.
Spina bifida is a condition where a baby’s spinal cord fails to develop while in the womb — causing a gap in the spine.
Evie, who hails from Skegness in England, was born with the rare condition on November 19, 2001, and currently spends some of her days connected to tubes to survive.
In the suit, instituted before a UK high court last month, Evie had prayed that she’s awarded damages over the doctor’s “wrongful conception” advice.
The 20-year-old had argued that Mitchell failed to properly advise Caroline Toombes, her mother, to take vital supplements before she got pregnant.
The para-showjumper also argued that had the doctor told her mother the importance of taking folic acid to reduce the risk of having spina bifida during conception, she would have delayed getting pregnant then.
Evie added that she would have been given birth to later as a healthy child without the disability.
In the suit, she said her mother — who had just gotten rid of birth control measure then — asked the doctor if she should delay getting pregnant at the time and also discussed folic acid with him.
But Michael De Navarro QC, counsel to the doctor, denied claims his client was responsible for Evie’s condition.
Navarro argued that his client gave the complainant’s mother “reasonable advice”.
In her ruling on Wednesday, Rosalind Coe QC, the judge, held that had Caroline been provided with the correct recommended advice by the doctor, she would not have conceived Elvie at the time.
“Had she (Caroline) been provided with the correct recommended advice, she would have delayed attempts to conceive,” she said.
‘In the circumstances, there would have been a later conception, which would have resulted in a normal healthy child.
“I therefore find that the claimant’s claim succeeds on liability.”
It remains unclear how much Mitchell is expected to pay Evie as damages following her win in the case.
The case is considered unprecedented as it means medical professionals can now be found liable for negligent pre-conception advice which results in the birth of a child with a major defect.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised women trying to conceive to take folic acid to “help prevent neural tube defects (NTDs).”
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