9-year-old who lost mother to breast cancer settles case for €900,000

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A nine-year-old girl who had to be delivered early and lost her mother to breast cancer eight days later has settled her High Court action for €900,000.

Gracie Hamilton, her counsel Eugene Gleeson SC told the High Court, was “plucked from her mother’s womb” at 28 weeks and five days gestation as her mother had Stage 4 breast cancer.

Her mother Melissa Hamilton was only 34 years of age when she died on September 8th, 2011, eight days after the birth of her third daughter.

Missed opportunities

The High Court previously heard the young mother died of breast cancer after two missed opportunities to diagnose the disease. Five years ago Gracie’s father,Séamus Hamilton and his two other daughters Jessica (now 15) and Darcey (now 11) settled their High Court actions for €1.35 million over Mrs Hamilton’s death .

On that occasion Letterkenny General Hospital “apologised unreservedly” that Melissa Hamilton’s cancer was not diagnosed and treated at an earlier stage.

In a letter to Melissa’s husband Séamus, the general manager of Letterkenny General expressed “deepest and sincere regrets” on the devastating loss of Melissa.


“I realise no words can make up for the loss that you and your children have experienced and our thoughts are with you all in these difficult times,” the letter said. Her husband Séamus Hamilton had told the High Court when his wife died just a fortnight

after her breast cancer was finally diagnosed it felt like a different world.

Congenital sensory neural deafness

In the High Court today, Gracie’s counsel Eugene Gleeson SC said young girl, Gracie, had congenital sensory neural deafness and had to have a nine hour operation to have an implant inserted in her ear.

Counsel said Gracie is doing very well at school but will be limited in what job she will be able to take up.

Mr Seamus Hamilton told the court it has been a long battle for the family , He described his daughter as “ a fighter”. He said the settlement would not bring back his wife but he was satisfied with the outcome. “We are overcoming the hurdles,” he told the judge.

Gracie Hamilton , Sallywood, Killygordon,Lifford, Co Donegal had through her father Seamus Hamilton sued the HSE.

The HSE it was claimed was responsible for the control, management and operation of the Breast Centre North West triple assessment clinic in Letterkenny General Hospital and also had a duty to take all reasonable steps to safeguard Mrs Hamilton’s life and a duty to those close to her including Gracie.

It is claimed there was a failure to diagnose Mrs Hamilton’s cancer at an earlier treatable stage and negligent delay in achieving a cancer diagnosis.

Liability was admitted in the case.

Approving the settlement Mr Justice Kevin Cross said he was delighted to hear Gracie is doing so well.

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