Evie Toombes equestrian para rider with spina bifida sues mother’s GP for being born, saying her medical condition could have been prevented.
A UK woman woman born with spina bifida is suing her mother’s former doctor for millions of dollars in health care expenses and damages claiming that she should never have been born. The landmark case could now potentially open the floodgates for other individuals born with disabilities to also sue medical personnel.
Evie Toombes, a 20-year-old equestrian show jumper from Lincolnshire, is suing her mother’s general practitioner, Dr. Philip Mitchell, for ‘wrongful conception’ after he allegedly failed to advise her mother to take folic acid supplements before getting pregnant that she claims resulted in her birth defect, according to The Telegraph.
Toombes was diagnosed with lipomyelomeningocele after her birth in November 2001, a neural tube defect to the spine. Her bones never properly developed along her spinal cord causing permanent disability. The condition is caused when a baby’s spine and spinal cord do not develop properly in the womb, causing a gap in the spine.
The para rider show jumper claims that her mother never would have had her if her doctor had informed her that she needed to take folic acid supplements to minimize the chances of the defect affecting her baby.
Her attorney, Susan Rodway, told a UK High Court judge that Toombes was suing for ‘having been born in a damaged state’ and wanted to recover millions of dollars needed to cover the costs of living with her condition.
Does a former GP bear medical culpability?
Mitchell has denied any liability, saying that he gave Caroline Toombes ‘reasonable advice,’ although it is common practice to advise potential mothers to take the supplement before conceiving and through the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, The Telegraph reported.
The GP’s attorney argued that it is his practice to advise prospective parents that 400 milligrams of folic acid, however that if the mother had a good diet, folic acid levels anyway are typically at a healthy level and supplements would be less important.
‘He told me it was not necessary,’ she told the judge of her visit with the doctor in February 2001. ‘I was advised that if I had a good diet previously, I would not have to take folic acid.’
Rodway said that if she had been advised by Mitchell, she would have postponed having a baby.
‘It is her evidence she would have read up on it and wouldn’t have attempted to become pregnant until she was satisfied that she had protected herself as much as possible,’ the attorney said, according to The Telegraph.
Rodway added Caroline Toombes would have had a ‘normal, healthy’ baby, but one who was a ‘genetically different person’ to Evie Toombes.
Despite her mobility being ‘very limited,’ Evie hopes to compete in the Paralympics despite sometimes being hooked up to medical tubes for 24-hours a day. As she grows older she will be bound more frequently to a wheelchair. She also suffers from bowel and bladder issues as a result of her condition.
On her website, Evie describes her motto in life as: ‘Find a way, not an excuse.’
The final judgment is expected at a later date.