Saltash woman loses damages claim over heart op

A Cornwall woman who suffered brain damage as a baby has lost her claim for damages against a London hospital.

Grace Mugweni, 28, of Hyatt, Saltash, underwent heart surgery at Guy's Hospital in 1983.

During the operation she suffered a cardiac arrest and her brain was deprived of oxygen.

Court of Appeal judges said the anaesthetist involved had been negligent, but had not caused the damage.

Ms Mugweni was 19 weeks old at the time of the operation to cure defects in her heart.

After an open-heart bypass operation had gone well Ms Mugweni suffered a cardiac arrest after her chest was "closed up".

"Impending medical disaster"

Last year, a judge accepted the anaesthetist was "in breach of his duty" in failing to spot signs of the impending medical disaster earlier after the "comparatively simple" operation.

However, dismissing Ms Mugweni's claim, he said that error would have contributed only about three minutes to the period during which the oxygen to her brain was restricted.

Instead the judge accepted NHS London's plea that even "apparently uneventful" cardiac bypass surgery carries "an appreciable risk" of causing brain damage and the anaesthetist's mistake was not the cause of Grace's devastating injuries.

Dismissing Ms Mugweni's appeal against that ruling, Lord Justice Davis rejected claims that the judge's conclusions were "illogical and inconsistent" and said his ruling on the facts was "within the range of findings he was entitled to make".

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