A YOUNG woman left unable to have children naturally following treatment for cervical cancer has spoken of her determination to start a family after lawyers secured a settlement to fund surrogacy.
Since the previous June she had attended a number of appointments and undergone surgical procedures at Frimley Park Hospital for abdominal pain and bleeding – symptoms she had experienced for more than a year.
Despite requests for a smear test, Hannah had not undergone a test because she was under 25 – the age when automatically registered on the NHS cervical cancer screening programme.
Hannah, who was working as a nanny at the time, instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her care and whether her cancer could have been diagnosed sooner.
Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Frimley Park Hospital, carried out an internal investigation.
It recommended any woman, irrespective of age, who is undergoing cervical cautery, should have a biopsy of the cervix before undergoing treatment.
Following legal submissions the trust has now agreed an undisclosed six-figure settlement but denied liability.
Hannah underwent surgery to safeguard her ovaries for future fertility treatment before having chemoradiotherapy, radiotherapy and brachytherapy. However, the treatment left her unable to conceive. The settlement sum, which has not been revealed, will fund surrogacy as Hannah, now aged 30, and her partner Joe Allaway, 29, look to start a family. The couple are being advised on the surrogacy process by Irwin Mitchell’s family law team.
Chloe Morgan, specialist medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Hannah, said: “While Hannah has successfully battled cancer the effects of the disease will continue to live with her for the rest of her life. Tragically Hannah’s only hope of becoming a mum is by surrogacy.
“While nothing can make up for what she’s been through, we’re pleased we’ve been able to resolve this matter which has consumed more than five years of Hannah’s life. We’ll continue to support her as she now attempts to look to the future and hopefully realise her dream of having the family she has always wanted.
“Hannah has shown great bravery and her efforts have created changes in the Trust’s policy with the aim of preventing other women going through similar situations.”
Hannah added: “At the same time as trying to comprehend I had cancer I was trying to come to terms with the grief of losing my baby and that if I beat the disease I’d struggle to be able to conceive and that I needed to save my ovaries.
“When I look back I still feel a lot of anger and frustration about what happened and everything I’ve been through.
“I’m very fortunate I’ve had the support of my family and Joe and I’m proud of how far I’ve come considering what I’ve had to deal with.
“Having children is something I’ve wanted ever since I can remember. The thought of one day having a family was a major driver for me in getting through the cancer treatment.
“I spend a lot of time with close friends and their children. I love being around them but it’s difficult to take when a friend announces their pregnancy.
“I’m delighted for them but it also highlights the uncertainty of mine and Joe’s situation.”