Couple sues doctor for 'wrongful life' of their son

A NSW couple are suing their IVF doctor because they say their 11-year-old son should never have been born.

Although they say they love their son, they believe if they had been aware of the likelihood of his illness, they say they would never have gone through with the pregnancy.

Debbie Waller gave birth to Keeden in August 2000 following IVF treatment.

Only days after his birth, baby Keeden suffered a stroke that caused him to never be able to walk, talk or go to the toilet. He suffers permanent brain damage, cerebral palsy and uncontrolled seizures.

The stroke was caused by a rare blood clotting condition, antithrombin deficiency, which Keeden inherited from his father, Lawrence.

There was a 50% chance that Keeden would inherit this gene, however the Wallers say they were never made aware of this fact.

Mrs Waller told the Sydney Morning Herald: "We love Keeden now that he's here, but if we had the right information and the right options we wouldn't have gone ahead with the birth, not in the way we did."

They have taken their IVF specialist, Christopher James, to the NSW Supreme Court claiming ‘wrongful birth’ and seeking $10million in compensation to help care for their handicapped son.

The Wallers knew about Lawrence’s blood clotting condition and said they told Dr James about it.

In the first day of the hearing yesterday, Justice John Hislop heard that Dr James didn’t advise the couple on the likelihood of them passing on the condition to their baby and instead gave them details of a genetic counsellor at Wollongong Hospital.

The Wallers attempted to call the counsellor however the number was for the main switchboard and went unanswered.

The couple alleges Dr James didn’t mention the genetic counsellor again and began the IVF process.

David Higgs, SC, counsel for the Wallers told the court: "There was a duty of care on the part of Dr James to ensure that both he and the Wallers understood that this problem could be passed on and for there to be proper counselling and discussion about the other options they had, including the option of an anonymous sperm donor."

Lawyers for Dr James will argue that the referral to a genetic counsellor met his responsibility as an IVF doctor.

It isn’t the first time the couple have been in court regarding their son. They also previously launched a negligence claim in the High Court in 2006 which was unsuccessful.

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