Gynaecologist not liable for Down syndrome birth
For eight years, a Johannesburg gynaecologist faced a multimillion-rand claim after one of his patients gave birth to a baby with Down syndrome.
According to a Pretoria News report, the now-retired Dr Piet Engelbrecht will be able to put all that behind him.
The parents of the girl, who will turn 10 in November, persisted with a string of court applications to try to obtain damages from the specialist. The mother, who is not identified in order to protect the identity of the child, said that if she had known she was carrying a baby with Down syndrome, she would have opted for an abortion.
She said Engelbrecht was negligent for not establishing, during her pregnancy, that her child would have the disability.
She and her husband blamed the doctor for the burden they had to carry in raising their daughter, as well as all the additional costs involved in her care.
The parents failed in their first attempt to hold the gynaecologist liable in the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria). The Roodepoort couple, however, appealed the judgment, and three judges came to the same conclusion – Engelbrecht was not at fault.
Unhappy with the verdict, the couple turned to the SCA in a bid to yet again appeal. That court has informed the parents that it was not willing to entertain the appeal and that it was the end of the matter.
In her judgment, Judge Vivian Tlhapi said there was always a possibility of a woman giving birth to a child with an irreversible congenital or genetic disorder.
She could not fault Engelbrecht’s conduct.
Article disclaimer: While we have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of this article, it is not intended to provide final legal advice as facts and situations will differ from case to case, and therefore specific legal advice should be sought with a lawyer.