Can-Do-Ability: Answers and Solutions from my personal experiences of living with a disability

Girl Sues Her Mother's Obstetrician For 'Ruining Her Life' - Fair Complaint Or Whinger?<

4 Aug 2011Halina Jane Gillet was born in October of 1985, in Newcastle, which is located in northern NSW. The pregnancy was the fourth for her mother Marilyn Benson-Gillett, and she noticed that during this pregnancy, unlike the others, her unborn baby appeared to be larger.

When her obstetrician decided to induce Marilyn at 37 weeks, he opted to deliver Halina via a natural birth, despite Marilyn's request of a caesarean. Although her obstetrician, Professor Jeffrey Robinson, is one of Australia's most respected medical professionals, Halina sustained a birth related injury known as erb's palsy, which is the result of a difficult birth.

Erb's palsy is a nerve injury, which can affect the shoulder, arm and hand. It occurs when a newborn doesn't come out of the birth canal easily, from either getting stuck behind the mother's pubic bone, or being too large for the mother's pelvis, in either case, pulling is required to assist them out. If their heads are pulled too far to one side, shoulder dystocia, can occur, resulting in erb's palsy.

In the event of this happening, most babies' nerve's repair themselves, and gain normal movement back. However, 20% of injury's can't be repaired on their own, and will require surgery to repair damaged nerves, or physical therapy to assist in movement later on in life. Even then, some will maintain arm damage all the way through their lives.

Halina was one of these rare cases that are still living with the effects of erb's palsy, from birth. But instead of just getting on with life, and living with what she has been dealt, she is suing her mother's obstetrician for negligence, because he didn't do as her mother wished, and deliver via caesarean.

For such a case to even be possible, proceedings must begin before the child reaches 21. Now 25, Halina's case began 5 years ago, with just enough time to scrape into the time constraints.

Now, I'm not saying that Halina's life hasn't been hard, and that what happened to her could've been prevented, but I do think that sometimes things in life ‘just happen' and maybe her life was meant to be this way. And I don't think taking down a well respected Professor will make her injury go away. Sure, it'll make things easier financially for her, if she is successful, but I don't think that what she is doing is right.

Erb's palsy is preventable, through a number of different techniques. Such as; well planned out labour and birth procedures, good nutrition to ensure the foetus doesn't become too large and having an early delivery, to prevent larger babies from growing to their full size.

Did you know that cerebral palsy can also ‘preventable'? Does this mean that everyone who has cerebral palsy should start taking their mothers obstetricians to court for malpractice? I think that sometimes in life, people just look for someone to blame, or to compensate them for their life.

I was born with multiple old fractures, which were sustained from inside my mother's womb. My mum's doctor tried to turn me while I was in the womb (before they established that I had Osteogenesis Imperfecta), which I'm positive would've caused most, if not all of the fractures. And when I was delivered by emergency caesarean, the doctor pulled me out of my mother's stomach by my ankles, which resulted in further fractures to my ankles. To this day, my ankles are still crooked and would require complicated surgery to correct them, but I'm not about to start suing people! Like I said, some things in life ‘just happen'.

To view Halina's story, as featured on The Daily Telegraph website, entitled – ‘Natural Birthing Ruined My Life' – click here: http

Professor Jeffrey Robinson outside of court

Professor Jeffrey Robinson in happier times

Diagram of how erb's palsy can occur

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Previous Comments

Pooven Moodley from Auckland New Zealand posted on 3 Oct 2013
I am 40 years old and was injured during delivery. Nobody told my mum or family that I was injured during birth. I discovered about 3 years ago that my condition is called "erbs palsy". Until 3 years ago I thought I was the only person with this problem as I have never met anybody with this problem and still haven't in person. I am one of those very few people whose torn nerves didn't heal and I am now then proud recipient of a right arm that is a foot shorter than the left. I cannot lift my arm above my shoulder or reach for my back pocket. My life was hell, I had no self confidence as a teenager due to being very self conscious about my arm and the constant jeering from people and believe or not family members. Everyone made fun about the way I carried my arm and took pleasure in pointing out how I couldn't do what they could. I was passed up for many jobs due to my arm, I eventually just gave up and took a menial job . I worked my way up and I have been blessed to have the most wonderful women in my life. She is an angel of mercy, my wife who has given me the most beautiful daughter. I worry every day how I am going to maintain their lives as I fear my arm will not last much longer. It throbs with pain very much like a severe tooth ache every second of every day. It's throbbing so much now as I write this comment. So in saying all this , while the doctor probably didn't hurt Halina with malicious intent, he certainly DID hurt her due to negligence or haste or both. I am behind Halina 100% in her lawsuit. This would not ruin the good doctor in anyway financially or otherwise, BUT IT WILL, hopefully help Halina lead a life without the added financial stress of this injury. I tried to start proceedings myself a few years ago but was promptly told that the cut off age is 21.I would love to hear from anyone who is interested in speaking about this

david cook from london posted on 20 Dec 2012
Very informative post! For couples who are expecting,they should definitely look for Private Obstetrician London.

Tash from Sydney posted on 20 Feb 2012
As far as im concerned its the doctors mistake and the poor girl is paying for his stuff up !! Anyone who thinks otherwise is very stupid! When something f's up somebody has to pay thats just the way it goes...eveybody knows that. Hope you win your case!! :)))

Laura from Missouri USA posted on 8 Sep 2011
As a parent of a child with erbs palsey( we call it a Brachial Plexus Injury here)I would ask the readers to take a moment and see this issue from this injured girls perspective. I dont know all the details of her specific circumstances however, here is some food for thought. If you were driving down the road and and another motorist chose to run a red light, hit your car and you were injured due to their negligence- would you pursue some kind of legal of finacial compensation? Your car is totaled, you now have very limited use of your right arm and have to were specially hemmed clothes, braces, to sleep in, braces to play in, surgery, after surgery just so you can properly button your pants or cut vegTA-BLEs. Wouldnt you want that driver who could have made a prevenTA-BLE choice, take responsibility? The doctor made a choice to override the mothers request. She as a new mother would of course listen to his advice. However, it was the wrong choice and the mistakes HE made are the ones that this young lady and all children like her must live with. Get off your high horse and show some compassion. Nothing in life "just happens" everyone makes a choice, and those choices effect everyone arround them. Take the time to research erbs palsey and brachial plexus injuries at

Kate from Queensland posted on 6 Sep 2011
Please do not mistake me for the other Kate from WA as she sounds quite narrow-minded and condescending - and unfortunately she was born with it and cannot help but be that way. And the Kate from Sydney I am not either (BTW Kate, if you are reading a person's blog on their page, then you can usually assume that they wrote their own blog! they don't need to put their name on everything on their own site, that would be rather redundant) Anyway, I would just like to say that I actually agree with Jodie. As far as blame is concerned, in this situation, the mother chose the doctor and the method of delivery would have been discussed previous to the birth. If the mother had been that insistent on a ceasarean the doctor would not have refused, and if he did she could have gone to a different doctor. This would all have been discussed long before the birth itself. The doctor obviously opted not to perform a ceasarean on Halina's mother as a natural birth is always preferable, and most of the time it is infinitely safer. With the possibility of Halina's mother exagerating the situation also (or not remembering correctly) as she was in labour at the time, and it was a while ago. Accidents happen everyday, and we always look for someone to blame for these accidents. I can pretty much guarantee that the doctor involved did not have a personal vendetta against the unborn child and make her disabled on purpose, he simply made a mistake. Now this doctor and his family will, if Halina is successful, pay for the rest of his life for that one mistake. I do not believe that Halina's life would really have been that much more difficult due to her disability, in fact, it probably made her a much more tolerant and accepting person. Any disability is hard to live with, but we adjust and learn and grow from it. I don't think this doctor maliciously or intentionally ruined Halina's life, he made a mistake in his decision to deliver Halina naturally, but he could not possibly have known that. Having a disability is not the problem - it is not accepting your own disability that is the problem. Don't let your disability define you!And don't be so narrow-minded people - every one that put a negative comment on this blog, I invite you to come back and respond to this comment,and please tell us all about your own disability, and what makes you infinitely qualified to comment on anyone elses.

Kate from Western australia posted on 26 Aug 2011
U were born with whatever you have! You were dealt that card! Your life was ment to be like that! Hers was not! It was prevenTA-BLE! Don't be so selfish Wake up!

Kate from Western Australia posted on 26 Aug 2011
Well Jodie sweet heart Don't believe what u read in a newspaper! Its a story based around a few facts! If what you say is true You of all people should know! Unless someone is interviewed honey! Don't belive everything u read! This woman has a opportunity for justice! He made a mistake he should apolagise and compensate for what his caused!

abdirahim mohamed from perth posted on 11 Aug 2011
i think the girl is very selvish how could you say my mother ruin my life after giving birth to you ha ha ha you are a fucking joke seriously be grateful bitch......

Jo Blogs from Sydney posted on 9 Aug 2011
Thank you very much for your support Stephanie! To Kate and Sarah, if you would care to read the message on the homepage of this website, you will see that all of the blogs on here are written by me: Jodie De Ruvo, that is why my name isn't included in my articles, because it's common knowledge once you access my website. As for considering myself 'lucky', well that's all about attitude... If you bothered to take a look around my site, you will see that I am severely disabled, and this is why I am voicing my opinion, because, I don't agree with holding someone responsible for an accident... And that's all it is.... My OPINION... And for your information Sarah, you make me laugh! Fractures heal do they? Well, let me tell you, after more than 300 of them, there is constant issues that arise for me everyday, that will occur, for the rest of my life, from these insignificant fractures. I just hope no one in your family ever has to go through what me and my family has, but then again, if they did, maybe you wouldn't be so quick to judge me on my opinions.

Kate from Sydney posted on 8 Aug 2011
Go bint! I agree good on halina for doing this! He made a mistake and this girl has to live with his mistake everyday for the rest of her life!He should take responsibility for his actions! And make Halinas life more comftorble!! N whoever wrote this article! Yeah where is your name!? U can think what u do about ur life! But some other ppl aren't half as lucky as u consider urself!

sarah from Sydney posted on 5 Aug 2011
why dont you put your name in your article. And thats your opinion, you have no idea what her life has been like. fractures heal, birth defects don't

Stephanie McMurtry from Missouri USA posted on 5 Aug 2011
I loved what you had to say and just want to commend you on being such a positive and proactive person for people like me, who can't use all the muscles in my body but, thanks to people like you, I know my smile muscles work just fine. Better than fine. Perfect :) Much love to you!!!

bint alshamsa from Louisiana USA posted on 4 Aug 2011
It doesn't matter why she decided to do it now. Perhaps, she's just starting to see how much her disability will affect her earning ability or quality of life for the next half of a century.If a mechanic caused damage to you car, you'd hold him liable for the results of his shoddy work, wouldn't you? If a seamstress didn't properly sew the stitches on your pants and they fell off of you while you're on speaking on stage, would you just say that it was all "meant to be" and let it go at that while pictures of you in your bare panties floated around the internet for the rest of your life?It's very sad to see people with disabilities so critical of one another instead of supporting our sister. How much damage should a doctor be able to cause without being held responsible? He screwed up. Holding him responsible is not being mean or greedy or unreasonable.How "well-respected" he is is irrelevant. Well-respected people are just as capable of inflicting harm as anyone else. Is his life somehow more important than hers? What if someone damaged HIS arm? That would certainly impact HIS ability to carry out the duties associated with his career. This isn't looking for someone to blame and it's awful to hear someone make this kind of claim.There's a world of difference between blame and responsibility. Even if no one ever blamed him, his actions are still the reason why she is disabled today. You're free to take a "meant to be" attitude when it comes to YOUR body, but it's pretty awful to tell someone else what they should be willing to put up with.

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