The Daily Telegraph
Showjumper sues GP, saying she should never have been born
Evie Toombes, 20, seeks damages from mother’s doctor over alleged failure to flag risks of spina bifida
A SHOWJUMPER with spina bifida has sued her mother’s GP for millions of pounds in damages, claiming she should have never been born.
Evie Toombes, from Lincolnshire, was born with the disabling disorder in which the bones of the spine do not close properly around the spinal cord.
The 20-year-old has said she aims to compete in the Paralympics in future, despite the condition often resulting in her being connected to medical tubes 24 hours a day.
In a landmark High Court case, Ms Toombes is suing Dr Philip Mitchell in a “wrongful conception” damages claim over his alleged failure to advise her mother, Caroline Toombes, to take vital supplements before getting pregnant.
In the lawsuit, Ms Toombes claims that her mother would have put off having a baby had Dr Mitchell told her she needed to take folic acid supplements to minimise the risk of spina bifida affecting her baby.
The 20-year-old said that as a result, she never would have been born at all.
Her barrister, Susan Rodway QC, told the judge that she is suing for “having been born in a damaged state” and that she wants millions in damages to cover the cost of living a disabled life.
Dr Mitchell, who was working at the Hawthorn Medical Practice in Skegness at the time, “comprehensively denies” liability and claims he gave Mrs Toombes “reasonable advice”.
Medics advise prospective mothers of the benefits of taking folic acid supplements before conceiving and during the first 12 weeks of their pregnancy to ward off the risk of spina bifida.
The court heard that Caroline Toombes, who is also a keen rider, had gone to see Dr Mitchell in February 2001 to discuss her plans to have her first baby.
“This was a very precious decision to start a family because she herself had lost her parents when she was young,” her daughter’s barrister told the judge.
However, Mrs Toombes claims that despite having a discussion about folic acid during the consultation, Dr Mitchell did not tell her of its importance in preventing spina bifida.
“He told me it was not necessary,” she told the judge. “I was advised that if I had a good diet previously, I would not have to take folic acid.”
Ms Rodway said that, had Mrs Toombes been properly advised by Dr Mitchell, she would not have gone on to conceive as quickly as she did.
The QC claims that Mrs Toombes would have paused her pregnancy plans, started a course of folic acid treatment and then attempted to conceive.
“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,” she said.
Dr Mitchell’s lawyer told the judge that he gave “reasonable advice” about the desirability of folic acid supplements being taken prior to pregnancy.
Judgment has been reserved and will be given at a later date.