No-smile girl Caitlin Gaylard receives £100,000 damages

University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff
Image caption Caitlin underwent surgery at the University Hospital Wales in Cardiff to remove the growth

A girl has been awarded £100,000 in damages after she was left unable to smile following medical treatment to remove a growth on her neck.

Caitlin Gaylard developed a non-cancerous tumour which rapidly grew to the size of a fist within weeks of her birth in November 2002.

Caitlin was living in Magor near Chepstow when she had surgery to remove the growth in Cardiff.

But surgeons severed nerves causing severe facial paralysis.

Lawyers for the family asked the High Court on Friday to approve the settlement against Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.

Part of the award will fund further surgery for Caitlin - either in the UK or United States later this year.

Now 12, the young girl is living in Houston, Texas, after her father was posted to the US for two years, working for the computer firm IBM.

The hearing in London was told that Caitlin had endured a series of painful procedures over the years, in unsuccessful bids to repair the nerve damage.

It had left the schoolgirl withdrawn and damaged her self-confidence.

'Depth of emotion'

Her parents, Kim and Ian Gaylard, said it had been heartbreaking

"I am in complete awe of my daughter and how much she has overcome in her short life," said Mrs Gaylard.

"She has really struggled through the years to come to terms with her facial palsy.

"Facial palsy can be extremely isolating and while friends empathise, they can never truly understand the depth of emotion or affect it has on your life.

"I think of the importance people place on a smile, about her graduation photo, her wedding photo and all the first impressions she will have to face in her future and my heart breaks over and over."

The girl's mother said the family had faced many challenges.

"Caitlin is the bravest, kindest person I know and hopefully the next operation will work, but if it doesn't I know she'll pick herself up again and I'll be right beside her every step of the way," she added.

She said that Caitlin planned to help other children by raising money for Facial Palsy UK.

The university health board did not contest the case at the High Court and it accepted liability and agreed a settlement with the family's solicitors.

A spokesman for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said: "The health board is very sorry for what has happened and we would like to offer our sincere apologies to Caitlin and her family.

"The board accepted liability in this case shortly after receiving the claim and we are pleased that the legal process is now complete.

"We appreciate this settlement will never undo the harm caused but we hope it helps Caitlin and her family in some small way."

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