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  • Undergoing surgery

    Surgical Knife

    In the High Court case of Heffernan -v- Mercy University Hospital Cork Ltd [2014] IEHC 43 (High Court, Herbert J, 5 February 2014) the plaintiff, aged 62 years of age at the date of the Hearing, following a surgical procedure for the repair of a recurrent inguinal hernia on the 19th January, 2010, found that his left testicle, over the remainder of that year, progressively diminished in size to a point where it had no obvious mass.


    Four Courts, Dublin

    High Court, Dublin

    Having heard the evidence the Judge was satisfied, on the balance of probabilities that the damage to the plaintiff’s left testicular artery, which resulted directly in the loss of his left testicle, was caused by some form of unduly vigorous handling of the spermatic cord during the course of the surgical procedure. He found that therefore the defendant hospital was answerable to the plaintiff in negligence.
    Consequences of injury

    After the operation the Plaintiff noticed a lessening in his sex drive. He told the court that this had recovered to some extent, but in his opinion sexual intercourse with his partner was still reduced by up to 50% from pre 19th January, 2010, levels. His erections were less frequent and he had doubts about his ability to achieve and maintain a full erection. He said that the absence of a left testicle caused him embarrassment in dressing-room situations, such as at a gym. The Judge was satisfied that the plaintiff had, since April 2010, suffered and continued to suffer some psychosexual related erectile dysfunction as a consequence of the loss of his left testicle.
    Replacement by a Prosthesis?

    Undergoing Surgery

    Undergoing surgey carries risks

    Evidence was given that the insertion of a cosmetic prosthesis to replicate an absent testicle was a much used and simple operation and the result was very realistic. The risks associated with the procedure were that the prosthesis might become dislocated and require repositioning, that in very rare cases it could rupture and, that if a gram-positive bacterial infection, such as streptococcus occurred the prosthesis would have to be urgently removed. Approximately 50% of persons who lost a testicle due to torsion injuries accepted a prosthesis.  It was acknowledged that some persons reasonably could not tolerate the presence of an artificial structure in their body. In the instant case, despite the minimally intrusive surgery involved and the low attendant risks, having regard to the events which had given rise to this litigation the Judge did not find it unreasonable for the plaintiff to decide against a prosthesis. The Judge also was satisfied that it was reasonable for the plaintiff to be concerned about the consequences of suffering an injury to or having a problem with his remaining right testicle.

    For general damage to date, the court awarded the plaintiff the sum of €55,000. For general damage into the future the court awarded the plaintiff an additional sum of €20,000.

    Morgan McManus solicitors practise in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Whether your Claim arises in Counties Monaghan, Cavan, Fermanagh or Tyrone contact Brian Morgan for further advice at 0035347 51011