Whit­sun­day mum in le­gal bat­tle over hole in her heart

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS - By Sharon Small­wood

WHIT­SUN­DAY mother of three Karen Chit­tle­bor­ough is lucky to be alive. About 12 months ago Ms Chit­tle­bor­ough was di­ag­nosed with pul­monary hy­per­ten­sion and se­vere heart and lung dam­age, re­sult­ing from a 12mm hole in her heart.

But per­haps the big­gest shock of all was the dis­cov­ery that the hole in her heart was al­legedly de­tected some nine years ago at an ante-na­tal ap­point­ment in Proser­pine.

Ms Chit­tle­bor­ough, who is likely to re­quire a fu­ture heart and lung trans­plant to try to pro­long her life, is now su­ing the Queens­land Govern­ment for $2.26mil­lion for breach of duty of care.

The law­suit filed by Shine Lawyers claims that had Ms Chit­tle­bor­ough been told about the de­fect in 2004 and given the ap­pro­pri­ate treat­ment, se­vere and ir­re­versible dam­age to her heart and lungs could have been pre­vented.

Ms Chit­tle­bor­ough re­mem­bers the an­te­na­tal ap­point­ment dur­ing her first preg­nancy with daugh­ter Su­raya, at which her doc­tor thought he de­tected a heart mur­mur. She was sent for an echocar­dio­gram, the re­sults of which were never com­mu­ni­cated to her.

“I just went on my merry way. I had a mid­wives ap­point­ment a cou­ple of weeks af­ter that and I re­mem­ber ask­ing the mid­wife was there any­thing on my file or charts and ap­par­ently there wasn’t,” she said.

Nine years later, Ms Chit­tle­bor­ough has learned there were notes made de­tail­ing the 12mm hole be­tween the up­per cham­bers of her heart.

Al­though she went on to have two more chil­dren, Tyde, 7 and Nate, 5, Ms Chit­tle­bor­ough has also since dis­cov­ered that preg­nancy is in­cred­i­bly danger­ous for some­one with her con­di­tion.

Shocked, an­gry and lucky were the words she used to de­scribe how she felt and while win­ning the law suit might help from a fi­nan­cial point of view, it could in no way com­pen­sate for the life she now leads.

“It can’t make up for the fact that my kids say ‘mum’s got to rest again’ or ‘why can’t you take us for a bike ride’,” she said.

A spokesper­son from Queens­land Health said due to le­gal rea­sons the depart­ment was un­able to comment.

KEEP­ING PACE: Karen Chit­tle­bor­ough, pic­tured with her hus­band Dave and chil­dren Tyde (7), Nate (5) and Su­raya (8) at the fam­ily's Su­gar­loaf home.

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