Teenager’s botched operation heartache

Anna White with her mum Donna
Anna White with her mum Donna

WHEN Anna White went into hospital for a routine hospital operation, she was fit and active. A promising gymnast and karate champion.

She finally left - five months later - with severe, life-changing brain damage and needing round-the-clock care.

This week hospital bosses have been forced to admit a catastrophic medical blunder after a botched operation at Wigan Infirmary when she was just 15.

She was admitted to hospital with stomach pains and appendicitis was diagnosed, but suddenly stopped breathing and suffered a cardiac arrest on the ward shortly after surgery.

Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) NHS Foundation Trust later admitted a cannula used to give Anna, now 19, an anaesthetic drug had not been washed out following the operation.

When it was then used again to pump fluids into her body, it also flushed the remains of the anaesthetic into her system, sparking a rare and devastating reaction.

The mistake has had a profound effect on Anna’s life, who before finding herself in a wheelchair unable to walk or talk dreamed of a career in midwifery and was a promising gymnast and karate champion.

Her mum Donna was forced to give up her job to become her daughter’s full-time carer as she now needs help with the simplest tasks, including washing and feeding herself.

Although WWL bosses have apologised for the error which forever altered Anna’s life, Donna has now launched legal action against the Trust to get the compensation she needs to look after her daughter.

Donna, 39, said: “I say it’s like having a newborn baby because everything a newborn baby needs, that’s what I do now.

“It has had devastating consequences, but I’m just grateful that Anna is still here and she knows who I am.

”If this hadn’t happened, she would have been going to university this year. She wanted to become a midwife and she would have achieved it, we couldn’t find anything Anna couldn’t do.

“I sometimes think: ‘Why my little girl?’ She had done nothing wrong, she didn’t deserve this. I am not angry for what I go through, but for what they have taken from her.”

Following the incident on September 21, 2011, Anna spent the next five months in hospital before being allowed home.

The teenager and her mum also had to move miles from their two-storey house to a more accessible bungalow in Wigan.

Although Donna recognises the prognosis for Anna is bleak, she refuses to give up hope and has not been deterred by her four-year legal fight for compensation from WWL.

She said: “Anna knows she will need 24-hour care, she knows she is always going to be disabled.

“But doctors are discovering new things all the time and she is a very determined young lady.

“She never says: ‘Why me, mum?’ She just wakes up every day with this big smile on her face and we get through it together.”

Clinical negligence specialist Brendan Hope from law firm Slater and Gordon, who is representing the family, said: “As a result of this admitted and avoidable mistake, Anna suffered catastrophic injury which has completely and irreversibly changed her life.

“She will always be dependent on others and, while no sum of money will ever make up for what happened, it will make some aspects of her life easier and more comfortable in the future.”

A WWL spokesman said: “The Trust has admitted that the care it provided to Anna White fell below an acceptable standard, and has apologised unreservedly to Ms White for this. The Trust has implemented a number of changes to eliminate the possibility of this type of failing occurring in the future.

“Given that legal proceedings in relation to this care are ongoing, the Trust is unable to offer further comment at this stage.”