University Hospital Galway has apologised to the parents of a six-year-old girl who was severely brain damaged after a delay in treating her for jaundice soon after her birth in 2011.

Lawyers for Sadhbh Farrell said a simple and inexpensive treatment for the condition was given too late.

The court approved an interim settlement of €2.6m in the case taken on behalf of Sadhbh through her parents Niamh and Shane Farrell from Killeeneen, Craughwell, Co Galway.

In a letter to the family the hospital expressed its "deepest regret" and apologised "for the failings of care provided to Sadhbh in the week following her birth".

It said: "We do not underestimate how difficult and traumatic this has been for you and your families and the challenges that you and your families have faced as a result of the failings in treatment and care provided to Sadhbh."

Sadhbh was born on 23 January 2011 at 36 weeks' gestation in good condition weighing 3.2kg.

About 12 hours after she was born, her mother Niamh, who had two older children, was concerned about jaundice.

Sadhbh was seen by a paediatrician 11 hours later but no further tests were done even though jaundice was noted. Both mother and baby were allowed home some time later.

The court heard experts would say the hospital was in breach of its own guidelines in discharging the baby at that time.

Babies born before 38 weeks' gestation are at increased risk of jaundice and the guidelines made it mandatory for tests to be carried out if jaundice appears within 24 hours.

Sadhbh was seen at four days' old by a district nurse at home and although her eyes were noticed to be jaundiced no further tests were recommended.

On 31 January 2011 she was referred as an emergency to the emergency department of University Hospital Galway.

Tests showed her bilirubin level was 756. A level over 15 makes it mandatory for immediate treatment.

Levels over 425 are dangerous and toxic and will cause irreversible brain damage.

Her treatment in the emergency department was not started until three-and-a-half hours later.

She was later transferred to Temple Street Children's Hospital and within 24 hours her levels fell to 240.

She was discharged on 7 February and initially it was hoped that she was in the clear. However, the court was told the damage had been done. The treatment came too late.

She was diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy four months later and is profoundly challenged in all aspects of daily living. She will require care for the rest of her life. 

Her parents said her treatment came late but they hope her story will save others.

They said high levels of bilirubin levels represent an insidious, silent danger and if left untreated can have devastating consequences.

They said the treatment is so simple - phototherapy can reduce levels of bilirubin within hours.

The family said they would like lessons to be learned and want new parents and all who care for newborns to be vigilant and have simple tests done if there is any cause for suspicion.

In a statement afterwards her parents said Sadhbh was the adored baby of the family. They said she "is a beautiful, bright and very determined little girl whose smile lights up our world. Her birth on the 23rd of January 2011 was one of the happiest days of our lives.

"The failings in Sadhbh's medical care in the days following her birth will restrict her ability to live out every aspect of her life to fulfill her dreams and also the dreams we had for Sadhbh, as every parent has for their child when they are born.

"The interim settlement we have reached today will never remove our ongoing grief for the independent life lost to Sadhbh, but will now help our little girl get the care and support needed to have every opportunity to live as full a life as possible.

"We would like to thank everyone involved in the care of Sadhbh over the past six years especially our families, neighbours and friends for their continued support to all five of us."