Payout over operation error by disgraced Leeds heart surgeon

Carrie Wright
Carrie Wright
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A LEEDS hospitals trust has paid £430,000 to the mum of a girl who was left severely brain damaged after an operation and later died.

Carrie Wright was nine when she underwent surgery for a heart defect at Leeds General Infirmary, carried out by Nihal Weeraseena, in 2003. The surgeon was struck off earlier this year over his conduct in other procedures.

Carrie, from Hull, suffered brain damage after her body was cooled and put into circulatory arrest for 121 minutes – though periods of more than 45 minutes were regarded as likely to lead to brain injury.

As a result, Carrie was left unable to walk or stand unaided and had very limited speech. She died in December 2014, aged 20, as a result of complications from her injuries.

Her mum Dawn Clayton said: “Prior to the operation, Carrie was just like any other active nine-year old girl. She left me early on the day of the operation and came back from surgery that evening changed forever.

“All the time when we were adjusting to a new life with Carrie and fighting to make sure she received the right care, we were also in a long, hard battle with the hospital for them to admit liability. I only received a letter of apology last year, some 13 years after the operation.

“It’s been alarming for me to see the news that the same surgeon who operated on Carrie is now guilty of failings in the later cases.”

Dr Yvette Oade, chief medical officer for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, expressed “sincere condolences” to Carrie’s family and deep regret “that we failed to provide the care that she and her family were entitled to expect”.

* Nihal Weerasena was struck off the medical register after he showed “reckless disregard” for patient safety.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust referred the doctor to the General Medical Council in January 2014 following a review of its paediatric care services.

A Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service hearing in January ruled that Mr Weerasena’s treatment of three children and one adult fell seriously below the standard of a reasonably competent consultant cardiothoracic surgeon.

Mr Weerasena, who did not attend, claimed he had been made a “scapegoat”.