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Jessye Norman’s Family Sue Over Treatment That Allegedly Left Her Paralysed

Jessye Norman’s family sue over treatment that allegedly left her paralysed

She had a voice described as a “grand mansion of sound”, won four Grammy awards and thrilled audiences in the world’s opera house – but suddenly stopped performing in 2015.

When Jessye Norman died four years later at the age of 74, her family said she had passed away from septic shock and multi-organ failure secondary to complications of a spinal cord injury she had sustained in 2015. The circumstances surrounding the injury and disappearance from public life were never explained.

However, it can be revealed that Norman’s brother is suing two renowned doctors and a leading London private hospital for allegedly leaving her paralysed when she underwent surgery in 2015 to try and cure a longstanding and painful back problem.

James Howard Norman Sr has launched a lawsuit alleging that medical negligence by anaesthetist and pain specialist Dr Adnan Al-Kaisy, consultant spinal surgeon Khai Lam and the London Bridge hospital left his sister unable to move her body below the waist.

The doctors and hospital are disputing his claims.

The singer’s brother alleges that she suffered horrendous damage as a result of undergoing a procedure called epidurolysis, which is used to dissolve scar tissue around nerves in the spine.

His claim, which has been lodged at the high court in London, alleges that a series of mistakes meant “the deceased was effectively paralysed from the waist downwards, she could not walk, she could not stand even in a standing frame and she was wheelchair-bound”.

It continues: “She needed extensive care. She lived out her days in a rented apartment in New York since she could not access her home in Westchester County.”

The document claims that Al-Kaisy performed the epidurolysis despite the “limited evidence of the procedure’s efficacy, and little if any evidence of its safety”, despite the operation being little-used in the UK and the fact that it was not recommended by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (Nice) for back pain. It also accuses the doctor of not warning the singer of these weaknesses and not acquiring her informed consent to proceed with the procedure in those circumstances.

Norman’s brother contends that Lam also failed to warn the star about the limitations of the epidurolysis and that the procedure was the wrong treatment for the condition she was suffering from, called spinal stenosis. He claims Lam did not warn his sister “of the significant risk of paralysis arising from the procedure, in particular severe and permanent damage to the nerves involving paralysis and loss of the use of the lower part of the body”.

According to Norman his sister developed sciatica in March 2015 after undergoing surgery in New York the month before. A week later she came to London to fulfil some engagements and, on the advice of one of her doctors in her native United States, had a consultation with Lam at the London Bridge hospital. He noted that standing for a few minutes left her with pain and numbness in her right leg. He tried two treatments – steroid injections and inserting a “distraction device” – but neither relieved her symptoms.

Norman Sr’s claim says that Lam then suggested that the singer undergo epidurolysis, and suggested that Al-Kaisy could perform it. Both undertake private medical treatment and also work at Guy’s and St Thomas’ (GSTT), the leading NHS trust in London. Al-Kaisy performed the procedure at the London Bridge private hospital on 12 May 2015.

Both doctors are leading practitioners in their areas of medical expertise. Lam has regularly had articles published in medical journals and spoken at many medical conferences. The website for the GSTT’s private patient unit says that Al-Kaisy “has an international reputation as a leading expert in pain management”.

The legendary soprano was still in hospital in London after her treatment in 2015 when she first sought advice from law firm Leigh Day about taking legal action, and formally launched proceedings the next year. Her brother took over as the claimant when she died in 2019.

His claim also alleges that HCA, the giant American healthcare firm which owns and runs the London Bridge hospital, was negligent in not ensuring that the epidurolysis Lam and Al-Kaisy had recommended was safe, appropriate and evidence-based.

Olive Lewin, the specialist medical negligence solicitor at Leigh Day who is representing Norman Sr in the action, said: “The injuries Miss Norman sustained made her final years extremely difficult. It is a sad fact that despite wanting to, she was unable to continue engaging in the activities and events she loved most in the last four years of her life.

“Jessye Norman had painful sciatica, and was admitted to the London Bridge hospital for a pain-relieving procedure. She ended up being paralysed within hours of a procedure for which the claimant says there was no informed consent, and the efficacy of the procedure has not been proven.

“A negligence claim is being pursued as a result. This remains an ongoing claim, which is currently being defended.”

None of the defendants in the case responded directly to the claims when approached by the Guardian, but they are contesting the allegations against them and each has filed a defence.

HCA Healthcare UK owns and runs other private hospitals in the capital besides the London Bridge, including the Wellington, Princess Grace and Lister.

A HCA spokesperson said: “In order to ensure the confidentiality of every patient we care for, we would not comment on an inquiry into any individual’s care.”

Browne Jacobson solicitors, who are representing Al-Kaisy, said that patient confidentiality meant that he could not say anything but does deny the claims. His lawyer, Matthew Trinder, added: “I can tell you that all the allegations are strenuously denied and that a full defence has been served.”

Lam did not reply to requests to respond.

Health

Group hails IG as mother accused Hospital of stealing Placenta

The Inspector General of Police, (IG) Kayode Egbetokun has received praises for the prompt arrest of suspects accused of stealing the placenta of a new born baby in privated hospital located in Kwara State. The suspects were taken from Ilofa to Ilorin, the Kwara State capital on Thursday.
In a statement signed by NHRC’s official, Mr Taiwo Adeleye said the arrest of the suspects was an important step towards securing justice for the families of Mr Rotimi Williams whose wife accused health officials at a private hospital of stealing the placenta of her new born baby.
The Nigerian Human Rights Community, (NHRC),a coalition of 130 civil society groups spread across Nigeria on Thursday expressed delight at the arrest of the suspects by the police.
The group said it was aware of plots by some powerful individuals to clog the wheel of justice but was delighted that the IG has brought hope to the despairing family. It called for full investigation that would lead to the arrest and prosecution of all culprits.
Few days ago, Mrs Williams accused the management of Cottage hospital, Ilofa, Kwara State of failing to account for the placenta of her new born baby. In complaints lodged with the NHRC, Mrs Williams said a nurse, Mrs Alabi took the delivery, one nurse Adeloye cleaned up the baby while one Mrs Toyin, a ward attendant claimed she mistakenly threw away the placenta.
“In Nigerian agelong tradition, the placenta is linked to the spiritual and physical wellbeing of a new born baby. There is a customary and agelong way of burying placenta of which every medical staff is aware.The disappearance of a baby’s placenta is a source of eternal trauma for the parents and a prelude to impugn the future of the child based on timeless tradition and beliefs,” the NHRC said.
The Coalition said the placenta could be stolen for rituals, adding that stealing a placenta is like killing the child or using the child for ritual by other means The group said it would follow-up the case “day and night” to ensure justice is done. The NHRC said Mrs Toyin brought out the mother’s bags from the labour room but failed to take the placenta along.
The rights group said one Mrs Ayoni Awolusi in the course of the delivery, claimed she was to be on duty but was absent. The medical personnel expected to be on dury was Dr. Ajibola. NHRC said Mrs Williams put to bed around 7pm on Sunday May 12 but discovered the missing placenta very early on Monday 13th, May.
The group called on the IG to intensify the probe and ensure every one connected with the gory episode is brought to justice

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AstraZeneca withdraws COVID-19 vaccines from market as demand reduces

Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca on Wednesday said it was withdrawing Covid vaccine Vaxzevria, one of the first produced in the deadly pandemic, citing “commercial reasons” following a slump in demand.

“As multiple, variant Covid-19 vaccines have since been developed there is a surplus of available updated vaccines. This has led to a decline in demand for Vaxzevria, which is no longer being manufactured or supplied,” an AstraZeneca spokesperson added in a statement.

“We will now work with regulators and our partners to align on a clear path forward to conclude this chapter and significant contribution to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

AstraZeneca rapidly developed the successful Covid-19 jab during the coronavirus pandemic which erupted in the first half of 2020.

Vaxzevria, developed alongside Oxford University, was at first offered at cost but Astra decided in late 2021 to sell it for profit.

But the world pivoted towards mRNA vaccines, particularly the one produced by US drugs giant Pfizer and German peer BioNTech, after rare blood-clot problems with Astra’s jab increased public hesitancy about taking it.

Sales collapsed further as global Covid restrictions were fully lifted worldwide and the world emerged from the global health crisis.

The AstraZeneca spokesperson said the group had begun the process from taking it off the market in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMA) region.

The company will work with other regulators globally to start market authorisation withdrawals for the Vaxzevria “where no future commercial demand for the vaccine is expected”.

The spokesperson said that, according to independent estimates, “over 6.5 million lives were saved in the first year of use alone” and more than three billion doses were supplied globally.

“We are incredibly proud of the role Vaxzevria played in ending the global pandemic,” the spokesperson said.

“Our efforts have been recognised by governments around the world and are widely regarded as being a critical component of ending the global pandemic. ”

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Health

NMA lauds Police for arresting fake doctor in Lagos

The Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, has commended the Nigerian Police Force for arresting an alleged fake medical doctor.

In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday in Lagos, Dr Benjamin Olowojebutu, Chairman, NMA Lagos, said the arrest will strengthen the association’s fight against quackery in the medical profession.

Olowojebutu explained that medical quackery was a dangerous practice that posed a threat to the well-being of citizens and the delivery of quality healthcare in the state, and country.

“The arrest is a welcome development for the health sector; we would expose these quacks and ensure that Lagos does not suffer further morbidity and mortality from their nefarious activities.

“We are glad that our work on anti-quackery has started yielding progress as we are determined to weed out quacks from the medical profession,” he said.

The chairman pledged that NMA Lagos, with the support of the Ministry of Health, Health Monitoring and Accreditation Agency, HEFAMAA, and police, would eradicate quacks from the state.

According to him, the association would hold an anti-quackery summit soon, after which it would present a white paper to the Lagos State Government on anti-quackery.

Olowojebutu warned hospitals to refrain from employing staff whose certificates and licences had not been verified by the MDCN to safeguard the health of the populace.

The 37-year-old medical practitioner with suspected forged certificates was arrested by police at Skylink Medical Centre, Elepe-Ikorodu.

The police said they arrested the suspect, who claimed to be the managing director of the health facility, based on intelligence gathered by the command through members of the Elepe community concerning the activities of the suspect.

The police recovered two suspected forged certificates of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State and the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, MDCN, after searching for the facility.

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