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Hospitals admit liability and apologise over care failings of Cork boy with brain tumour

Posted in on Tuesday, January 23rd, 2024

Orla Kelly and the team at Cantillons represented the family of the late Jack Doran in the High Court in Dublin in fatal proceedings against Children’s Health Ireland regarding Temple Street Hospital and the Mercy University Hospital.

It is no exaggeration to say that this was one of the saddest medical negligence cases I have worked.  It is sad because a lovely young boy lost his life needlessly but also because failings happened on a number of opportunities repeatedly over the course of 12 years.  These missed opportunities didn’t occur in a high pressure rushed emergency situation, these decisions (or lack of decisions) happened in calm outpatient and inpatient settings and involved a number of healthcare professionals.  It is especially sad because Jack had autism and as a vulnerable young boy, more than others, he depended on the health system to be his voice and to protect him.  Those failings are more than sad.

A matter of days prior to Mediation and short few weeks before trial, both hospitals admitted liability for the failings on their part and both hospitals issued apologies.

Following his death, Jack’s parents were in the dark about why he had died.  Through our investigations and careful gathering of expert opinion, we learn that he had a low-grade operable glioma present when he was just 3 years old and a series of opportunities were missed to detect it.  It should have been detected and if it had been, jack would have been cured and alive today.  A lack of paediatric MRI facilities in Cork contributed to the failings.  The legal process worked to allow the family learn the truth about what happened, to obtain two admissions of liability and two apologies and importantly to highlight what went wrong and how it could and should be rectified.

The family made this statement outside court:

“We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Jack, stolen from us at the young age of 15.  Jack was our angel and we adored him.  He was a beautiful happy boy, full of laughter and life.  He had autism and was a softly spoken kind boy, loved by his family and friends and teachers. 

 We are heartbroken and without him our sense of joy in life is gone.  Our lives are changed forever.

 When he passed away, we did not know the reason for his passing and had many questions. 

 We have now learnt that Jack died because there was a tumour growing inside his brain which was missed by the hospital doctors.  He had an MRI of his brain at Temple Street Children’s Hospital in September 2008 and the tumour which was operable at that stage was missed. Over the years he attended the Mercy University Hospital with symptoms but was not monitored as he should have been and further opportunities were missed to detect that tumour.  The simple step of performing a repeat MRI would have revealed the tumour and it would have been excised and Jack would be with us today. 

 The Defendants have now belatedly admitted liability in full and through the legal process we have now received apologies from both Temple Street Children’s Hospital and the Mercy University Hospital in Cork.  We now know what happened. The tumour was missed and let grow with the worst consequences.  We truly hope that lessons will be learned from the mistakes and prevent all children, and especially vulnerable children, suffering needlessly.  There is a shortage of facilities to perform MRI’s for children in the Munster area and this should be rectified.

 Jack, you taught us so much in your short life — the true meaning of unconditional love. You are missed beyond words, our darling boy. You loved toy story and we love you to infinity and beyond .”

Below are links to some of the media articles:

Contact us at Cantillons Solicitors at +353 (0)21 4275673 or  if you would like more information.

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Ernest J. Cantillon

Managing Partner

Orla Kelly


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