£500,000 for boy left fighting for life after being used as MMR guinea pigBy RACHEL ELLIS
Last updated at 08:20 10 December 2007
An autistic boy has won a £500,000 payout after the hospital at the centre of the MMR scandal carried out an operation that was 'not clinically justified'.
Jack Piper, then five, was left battling for life after the procedure, which his parents claim was carried out to establish links between his condition and bowel problems.
His bowel was perforated in more than 12 places during surgery at the Royal Free Hospital in North London.
At the time, it was at the centre of controversy after employee Dr Andrew Wakefield claimed that the triple measles, mumps and rubella jab was linked to autism and bowel problems.
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Tragic: Jack Piper's operation was 'not justified'
High Court papers alleged that the colonoscopy procedure performed on Jack in 1998 was 'not clinically indicated or justified'. They also claimed the 'principal reason' for the surgery was to further research into links between autism and bowel conditions rather than Jack's clinical needs.
The documents also claimed that Jack's parents were not warned of the risks of the procedure or the 'controversial and uncertain' link between autism and bowel conditions. This meant the surgery was performed 'without lawful consent' and was an 'assault' on Jack.
The Royal Free Hospital insists that staff had gone through all the pros and cons with Jack's parents.
The colonoscopy was suggested by Professor Simon Murch. He is being investigated by the General Medical Council over allegations that he carried out invasive tests including colonoscopies on 11 other children contrary to their best clinical interests.
Professor Murch, now professor of paediatrics and child health at Warwick Medical School, denies the charges. If he is found guilty of serious professional misconduct, he could be struck off.
High Court judge David Mitchell last week approved a £482,300 cash settlement made to Jack by the Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust. The hospital admitted the operation itself was negligent and gave Jack and his family a public apology.
Claims by his parents that they could not give proper consent for the operation, and that the procedure amounted to assault, were not tested in court. The NHS hospital could end up with a bill for a further £1million, depending on Jack's future care needs.
Jack, who lived in Hertfordshire before his family moved to York, had the operation which went 'catastrophically wrong' in November 1998.
He then spent two weeks in intensive care at Great Ormond Street Hospital. He suffered multiple organ failure, including kidney and liver problems.
He suffered a swollen brain and neurological problems. He has also developed epilepsy and suffered stomach ulcers. The botched oper-ation 'significantly increased' his dependence on others. Now aged 14, he needs round-the-clock care.
Jack's father Russell said: 'The award means that it gives us, as a family, the best opportunity to ensure that Jack's future quality of life is the best it can be in difficult circumstances.'
A spokesperson for the Royal Free Hospital said: 'The claim was settled amicably with Jack's family.
'The trust wishes Jack and his family the very best for the future.'