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Brain-damaged boy's family battle for compensation.

A SIX-year-old boy left severely brain damaged amid accusations a hospital failed to treat him with antibiotics has launched a High Court bid for compensation.

Alexander Durber developed cerebral palsy after suffering multi-organ failure after he was admitted to Singleton Hospital as a toddler.

Doctors initially treated him with the common child-remedy Calpol but Alexander's condition deteriorated rapidly.

His family - Alexander is suing Swansea NHS Trust through his father Robert - claims if Alexander had been given vital antibiotics when he was first admitted to the hospital he would have fully recovered from the illness.

If the family wins, Swansea NHS Trust, which has already admitted a breach of duty, could be landed with a 'sizeable' bill for compensation for Alexander's injuries.

A writ lodged at the High Court states that Alexander is now profoundly mentally and physically disabled, and totally dependent on his parents, and others, for all aspects of his life.

He will never be able to have a normal family life as an adult, or be able to work, and suffers from seizures, learning difficulties, and visual problems.

Alexander, who was born in July 1999, suffered from the serious bowel complaint Hirschsprung's Disease, but was otherwise in good health before he fell ill in October 2000.

His worried parents took the 14-month-old to Singleton Hospital, on their GP's advice, where a paediatric senior house officer suggested Alexander was suffering from an ear infection, admitted him and gave him Calpol.

But the following morning Alexander's condition had deteriorated significantly and he had developed a rash on his face.

The High Court writ states that doctors thought he may have developed septicaemia, and Alexander was prescribed the antibiotic Cefotaxime.

Despite the antibiotics, Alexander's condition continued to worsen, and he developed severe metabolic acidosis, with progressing shock and multi-organ system failure, according to the legal document.

Four hours later, another doctor thought he had either meningococcal meningitis or gastro-intestinal sepsis, and Alexander was put on a ventilator, and given a special tube in his lungs to help him breathe.

A team from the University Hospital of Wales' paediatric intensive care arrived at Singleton Hospital to transfer Alexander in the early afternoon.

The Cardiff-based doctors revised Alexander's diagnosis to pneumococcal septicaemia.

Alexander later underwent surgery and was given a colostomy.

The writ states that his surgeon described Alexander as the 'illest child he had ever operated on'. Alexander suffered multi-organ failure, but was eventually transferred back to Singleton Hospital on October 27 - almost a month after he was first admitted.

The High Court writ accuses Swansea NHS Trust of negligently failing to take account of Alexander's signs and symptoms, failing to consider that he might have septic shock, failing to take bloods for culture and a full blood count, and failing to give him intravenous antibiotics shortly after admission.

It also claims that staff were negligent in waiting eight hours before giving intravenous anti- biotics, and failing to treat him with the care and skill he needed.

The writ states that Swansea NHS Trust, which runs Singleton Hospital, has admitted breach of duty and has agreed that Alexander should have been given intravenous antibiotics while waiting for test results.

A spokesman for Swansea NHS Trust last night said it was unable to comment on ongoing legal matters.

The case is expected to be heard by the High Court at the end of the year.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 5, 2006
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