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IVF court case to test doctors need to provide appropriate advice

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Media Release

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A major legal battle which starts today will test the responsibility of doctors to provide advice to parents on the possibility of IVF conceived children being born with genetic diseases.

The 'wrongful birth' claim, is set down for a four week hearing before Justice Hislop, in the NSW Supreme Court.

The case centres on the advice given to Lawrence and Debbie Waller by their infertility specialist, Dr Christopher James, in 1999 regarding the chance of Mr Waller's blood clotting disorder being passed on to a child conceived by IVF.

Mr and Mrs Waller say that if Dr James had told them that there was a significant chance the child would inherit the condition, then they would not have gone ahead with IVF.

Instead they would have waited, so as to investigate whether the condition could be tested for and, if necessary, would have used donor sperm to avoid the inheritance risk.

The Wallers went ahead with the treatment unaware of the dangers and their son, Keeden, was born in August 2000 with a blood clotting condition AT3 inherited from his father.

When he was about five days old Keeden developed catastrophic blood clots in his brain suffering significant brain damage which left him with physical and cognitive problems - he cannot walk, speak or care for himself with no prospect he will recover.

Mr Bill Madden, from Slater and Gordon, said the central allegation of negligence is in relation to the adequacy of advice by Dr James to Mr and Mrs Waller.

“This case may determine some unanswered questions of law about wrongful life compensation - for example, does the claim by the parents end when the child turns 18 and should there be compensation for the time the parents spend caring for Keeden.”