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Parents sue hospital for failing to spot son's fatal chromosomal abnormality

12 November 2012

By Nishat Hyder

Appeared in BioNews 681

The parents of a child with serious disabilities caused by an inherited rare genetic condition who died shortly after birth are suing St George's Hospital, London for failing to test for and identify the condition before birth.

Jasper Allibone was born in September 2009 with serious brain and physical disabilities due to a condition called reciprocal translocation, inherited from his mother, where two or more chromosomes swap positions. He died aged three months.

The claim states that despite tests being carried out during a previous pregnancy (which ended in miscarriage) that could have identified Mrs Allibone as having the condition, they were not properly analysed by hospital staff. Had they done so, the claim details, Jasper would have been tested. The parents are suing the NHS for damages of £300,000.

Reciprocal translocations are present in around one in 500 people but usually do not produce any adverse health effects. However, carriers have an increased risk of producing embryos with chromosome translocations that can cause miscarriages or children born with some form of disability. A blood test can identify carriers of reciprocal translocation and during pregnancy CVS (chorionic villus sampling) and amniocentesis tests can be offered to check the fetus' chromosomes.

Mrs Allibone told the London Evening Standard: 'We believe there were multiple failings in our case, but despite our horrendous ordeal we still regard the NHS very highly, predominantly due to the amazing care received at the Royal Brompton paediatric unit after Jasper was born'.

The couple's lawyer, Alison Eddy of Irwin Mitchell, said: 'Mr and Mrs Allibone started their legal action against the NHS when Jasper was alive and was likely to need a significant level of care and rehabilitation throughout his life. The couple remain committed to finding answers relating to his birth'.

St George's Hospital has refused to comment on grounds that the case is ongoing.

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