Evie’s mother, Caroline Toombes, claims she was not told by Dr Philip Mitchell about the importance of supplements in the prevention of spina bifida. Despite suffering from the condition – which is caused when a baby’s spine and spinal cord do not develop properly in the womb, causing a gap in the spine – the 20-year-old was able to forge a career in showjumping, competing with both.
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Evie is now suing her mother’s doctor, Dr Philip Mitchell, for her alleged failure to advise her mother to take essential supplements before becoming pregnant. She claims that if doctors told her mother, Caroline, that she needed to take folic acid supplements to minimize the risk of spina bifida affecting her baby, she would delay the pregnancy until she did – and consequently Evie would never get pregnant.
Evie’s attorney, Susan Rodway QC, told Judge Rosalind Coe QC that the showjumper demanded “to be born damaged” and that she wanted millions in damages to cover the increased costs of living a disabled life.
But Dr Mitchell, who at the time worked at Hawthorn Medical Practice in Skegness revealed, “comprehensively disclaims” responsibility, claiming he gave Mrs Toombes “reasonable advice”. Medical workers regularly inform expectant mothers about the benefits of taking folic acid supplements before becoming pregnant and during their first 12 weeks of pregnancy to counter the risk of spina bifida.
A London court heard that 50-year-old Mrs Toombes – who is also an avid equestrian – went to see Dr Mitchell at the Hawthorn training ground to discuss her plans to have her first baby in February 2001.
“This was a very valuable decision to start a family, as she herself had lost her parents when she was young,” her daughter’s lawyer, Mrs Rodway, told the judge. They have refrained from sexual intercourse until they have received advice in this consultation.”
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But despite discussing folic acid during the consultation, Mrs Toombes claims she was not informed by Dr Mitchell about the importance of folic acid in the prevention of spina bifida. “He told me it wasn’t necessary,” he told the judge. “I was advised that if I had had a good diet before, I didn’t need to take folic acid.”
Rodway explained that had Mrs. Toombes been given proper advice by Dr Mitchell, she would not have gotten pregnant so quickly. She would discontinue her pregnancy plans, start folic acid treatment and then attempt to conceive, she claims.
“This is proof that she will read it and will not try to conceive until she is satisfied that she has protected herself as much as possible. If she does delay conceiving, she will have a “normal, healthy” baby – but one that is “genetically different.” “with Evie,” added QC.