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HIE Awareness Month

Posted In Birth Injury

April is HIE awareness month. For those who do not know, HIE (hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy) is a type of brain injury caused by insufficient blood flow and oxygen to the brain. Deprivation of blood flow and oxygen results in the death of brain cells. HIE often occurs around the time of birth. There are multiple causes of HIE – some of which are predictable and preventable, and occur because of medical malpractice.

Thankfully, HIE is an uncommon birth-related injury, occurring in less than 0.05% of births. Given its infrequent occurrence, HIE is not widely discussed outside of those affected by it. As a result, the family members of a newborn who suffers from HIE can feel very isolated, particularly since the effects of HIE are often devastating. While some newborns who suffer from HIE will recover fully, others will not survive, and still others will develop life-long complications and conditions, including cerebral palsy, epilepsy, vision and hearing deficits, communication disorders, learning disorders, and behavioral issues. These conditions can have catastrophic effects on the baby and family members.

As medical malpractice lawyers, we have seen first-hand many parents bear a great deal of physical, financial and emotional trauma as a result of giving birth to a child that one expects to be born without any injury like HIE, compounded by the strain of caring for a child who has a life-long disability caused by HIE. But as lawyers, we can only do so much for those afflicted by this type of brain injury. While an attorney may be able to obtain financial compensation for a victim of HIE when it results from medical negligence, the child and their family members ultimately need more help than a lawyer can offer. They need support from professionals who can assist with their physical, emotional, and intellectual needs. They also need support from their community, which can come from others facing the same challenges. Fortunately, there are various organizations whose mission is to help families cope with the effects of HIE, and to bring awareness to this injury.

As part of our commitment to do what we can to eliminate HIE, our firm has committed to donating to Hope for HIE, a global organization “dedicated to Awareness, Education & Support for Neonatal & Pediatric Acquired Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)". More information can be found here. We will continue to work to educate the public about this devastating condition and to support people in our community who face difficult burdens as a result of this diagnosis.

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