London

Sisters disabled by strokes awarded £3m damages

Two sisters disabled by strokes caused by sickle cell disease have been awarded more than £3m damages at the High Court in London.

Olayinka Obafemi, 22, was awarded an agreed damages award worth £1.9m after Whipps Cross University Hospital NHS Trust admitted limited liability.

Counsel alleged Wuraola, 17, who was also treated at the hospital should have been referred to a special centre.

She was awarded £1.4m, despite the hospital denying liability.

Counsel Chris Johnston told the High Court that in 1991 the hospital had found that Olayinka, who was diagnosed with sickle cell disease early in life, had suffered a stroke, leaving her with left-sided weakness.

Learning disability

Following her discharge, blood transfusions were initiated but these were only intermittent and Olayinka was re-admitted having suffered a second stroke, her lawyer said.

She then had a third stroke which affected her walking and caused her to fall frequently.

Regular transfusions started but, after they stopped, she had a fourth stroke in December 1993.

Mr Johnston said Olayinka now had continuing left-sided weakness, co-ordination problems and substantial loss of cognitive function, which meant she had a moderate learning disability and could no longer look after herself.

The agreed damages award in Olayinka's case reflected her need for care and support throughout her life.

When Wuraola was taken to casualty in August 1996 after becoming floppy and unresponsive, she was discharged, despite her mother telling doctors she was concerned about a stroke.

She was seen again with problems with her speech and arm and it emerged she had suffered a mild right-sided stroke.

Appalling problems

In September 1996, she suffered a far more serious stroke which led to permanent weakness, cognitive deficit and seizures.

Mr Johnston said their mother Bolajoko Oredein, of east London, had demonstrated "incredible resilience and stoicism" while providing constant care for her daughters.

"They are very impressive siblings - both in terms of handling their disabilities and the care they show each other - they are devoted," he said.

Margaret Bowron QC, for the trust, said the cases would have been difficult to try and she was pleased they had been resolved.

She said life had thrown some appalling problems at the sisters, who were very brave.

"They are determined young ladies and their mother has been a complete rock. We wish them all well for the future," she said.

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