A seven-year-old girl who was severely brain damaged at birth could have been saved from injury if she had been delivered ten minutes earlier, the High Court has been told.
Faye Walsh, of Letterfrack, Co Galway, has through her mother Martina sued the Health Service Executive and two consultant obstetricians over the circumstances of her birth at University Hospital Galway on 15 August 2011.
The defendants deny the claims.
The girl’s mother was a private patient of Dr Una Conway, a consultant obstetrician.
Dr Conway and Dr Declan Egan, the second defendant obstetrician, operate private medical practices at Brooklawn Practice, Brooklawn House, Galway West Business Park. They also practise as consultants in the Galway hospital.
Mrs Walsh wanted a private obstetrician at the birth because she had one previous birth by Casearean section and had suffered serious abdominal injuries in a road accident in 2008, the court was told.
She claims it was her understanding the birth would be attended by a private consultant obstetrician and that the risks of a so-called VBAC - vaginal birth after C-section - were not properly explained.
Her lawyers told the court it was their case that if a consultant obstetrician had been present earlier, a decision would have been made to deliver the baby sooner and she would have been saved from ten minutes of oxygen deprivation.
Her lawyers said it was discovered after the birth that Mrs Walsh's womb had ruptured - a recognised risk in vaginal deliveries after a C-section.
The HSE denies negligence and pleads a vacuum-assisted delivery of the baby was reasonable. It also pleads delivery was not unreasonably delayed.
A core dispute in the case concerns the birth arrangements and whether the risks of a vaginal delivery were fully explained.
The defendant obsetricians say they were, that Mrs Walsh wanted and agreed to a vaginal delivery, and that was a reasonable course of action.
Mrs Walsh claims she understood Dr Conway was on leave in 2011 and would be unable to attend at the birth but was told Dr Conway and Dr Egan worked "as a team" and Dr Egan would attend.
The defendants deny Mrs Walsh was told Dr Egan would attend, and claim that she was provided with a Brooklawn Practice information sheet stating, in the absence of Dr Conway or Dr Egan, her delivery would be supervised by a covering consultant obstetrician on-call for the hospital.
It is claimed, despite alleged requests by Mrs Walsh and her husband, that neither defendant obstetrician was called to the hospital when or after Ms Walsh went into labour about 11pm on Sunday 14 August 2011.
The court heard the on call hospital obstetrician was summoned to the hospital from his home around 4.30am the following day.
An obstetric registrar was also called and applied a kiwi cup to the baby's head. The on-call obstetrician, who was noted to be present at 4.50am, completed the delivery of the baby at 4.55am.
Faye was born in very poor condition and required immediate resuscitation.
She has spastic quadriplegia, is non verbal, is a full-time wheelchair user and will require 24-hour care for the rest of her life, the court heard.
Most of her care is provided by her parents and she is a "happy, content and smiling child" who gets on well at her community primary school and loves the cartoon show Peppa Pig, the judge was told.
The case is expected to last a number of weeks.