A girl left unable to smile after medical treatment to remove a growth on her neck has been awarded £100,000 damages at the High Court.
Within weeks of Caitlin Gaylard’s birth in November 2002, she developed a non-cancerous tumour which rapidly grew to the size of a fist.
Caitlin, who lived in Magor, South Wales, at the time, underwent surgery at University Hospital Wales in Cardiff five months later to remove the growth, but surgeons severed the nerves, causing severe paralysis on the right side of her face.
Yesterday, lawyers for the family, who are based in Houston, Texas, although they have a home in Somerset, asked senior High Court official Master Roberts to approve the settlement against Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.
Part of the award will fund further surgery for Caitlin, either in the UK or US, later this year, in a bid to put matters right.
After the hearing in London, Julie Lewis, a partner at law firm Irwin Mitchell, said that the schoolgirl had bravely coped with a series of painful procedures over the years.
When she was four, she had a nerve removed from her calf which was grafted to the good nerve of her face and the second stage of the procedure followed in 2009, but proved unsuccessful.
Ms Lewis said Caitlin became withdrawn and lost her self confidence and endured many years of bullying at school, which was heartbreaking for her parents, Kim and Ian, a 40-year-old project manager for IBM, who is on a two-year posting.
Mrs Gaylard, 38, said: “I am in complete awe of my daughter and how much she has overcome in her short life. She has really struggled through the years to come to terms with her facial palsy.
“Facial palsy can be extremely isolating and while friends empathise, they can never truly understand the depth of emotion or effect it has on your life.
“I think of the importance people place on a smile, about her graduation photo, her wedding photo and all the first impressions she will have to face in her future and my heart breaks over and over.
“As a family we have felt like we have been on a rollercoaster, but we are stronger because of it. Caitlin is the bravest, kindest person I know and hopefully the next operation will work, but if it doesn’t I know she’ll pick herself up again and I’ll be right beside her every step of the way.”
She said that Caitlin planned to help other children by raising money for Facial Palsy UK.