Friday, May 4, 2012

Girl talks for first time by blinking

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"I love Mummy and Daddy": Overwhelmingly emotional moment girl awarded £11m in hospital damages speaks her first words

Aged seven, new technology at last gave Milly the chance to communicate by blinking at a computer screen linked to a voice simulator


That's my girl: Andy with brave 11-year-old Milly
That's my girl: Andy with brave 11-year-old Milly

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Locked in a body she could not move, with a voice no one could hear, Milly Evans still retained the mind and spirit of a typical little girl.
She suffered catastrophic injuries after being starved of oxygen at birth – but dreamed of one day finding a voice.
Then, when she was seven, “gaze ­technology” at last gave Milly the chance to communicate by blinking at a computer screen linked to a voice simulator.
As her parents Kate and Andy looked on nervously, Milly concentrated hard before speaking her first words: “I love Mummy and I love Daddy.”
For Kate and Andy, it was an overwhelmingly emotional moment.
Kate, 41, recalled: “Milly had been burning to say, ‘I love you’ but simply hadn’t been able to.
"It was very emotional to see her finally put it into words. We were truly overwhelmed.”
Andy, 45, burst into tears when he heard his daughter speak her first words. 
"The former Red Arrows pilot said: “Knowing that was the most important thing for her to say was a real tearjerker.
“The gaze technology is incredible. When I tested it I was exhausted after just 15 minutes. But Milly can use it for hours with no problems.
“It has completely transformed her life.”

11 year old Milly Evans from Sleaford, Lincolnshire, was left disabled by a medical blunder at birth and has won £10.8million compensation at the High Court
Technical help: With mum Kate and her computer

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Now 11, Milly’s life was ­transformed again this week when the High Court awarded her £10.8million in compensation from the NHS.
The money – one of the largest pay-outs for a case of medical negligence – means Milly’s treatment, education and care will be assured for the rest of her life.
Her family now plan to move into an adapted home where Milly can use her eyes to control doors, lights, curtains and TV.
Financial security will also allow Milly to pursue the hobbies that “free” her from her damaged body – such as swimming with dolphins and even sailing solo.
Milly, from Cranwell, Lincs, was born at Lincoln County Hospital in March 2001.
Problems during labour meant her brain was starved of oxygen while in the womb but medics failed to monitor heart-rate equipment which would have alerted them.
If they had spotted the danger Milly would have been delivered earlier – and born healthy.
Instead she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and brain damage during a six-month check-up.
Andy said: “It was devastating news. Finding out was extremely upsetting and distressing.
"The pregnancy was completely normal but on the day of the birth there were a series of mistakes.
"The heart-rate equipment wasn’t working or being monitored correctly.
“Eventually they realised something was wrong but by then it was too late.”

11 year old Milly Evans from Sleaford, Lincolnshire, was left disabled by a medical blunder at birth and has won £10.8million compensation at the High Court
Pride: Andy with Milly as a baby

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The United Lincolnshire Hospital NHS Trust admitted negligence, made a full apology and was ordered to pay a lump sum of £5,866,000 and annual payments of £140,000 until Milly is 19.
She will then receive £204,000 a year for the rest of her life.
Milly’s money, held in a protected trust, will be spent hiring specialist teachers and carers, paying for transport and updating her power chair and the eye-gaze ­equipment.
By next spring the Evans family hope to build a new bungalow for Milly in their home town, complete with hydrotherapy pools, and appliances controlled by the gaze technology.
A monitor attached to her chair is fitted with four sensors trained on her eyes.
They allow her to control a mouse pointer on the screen by looking left, right, up and down.
She can “click” the mouse by blinking or staring at the same spot for several seconds and “speak” words and even complex sentences through a voice box.
Andy, who gave up his Red Arrows career to help care for Milly, said: “She learns so quickly. Milly can surf the internet and operate a computer.
"She goes on websites and plays her own music and videos. At the moment, just like most girls of her age, she loves One Direction.
“She is going to her first JLS concert later this year and can’t wait to see them.”

11 year old Milly Evans from Sleaford, Lincolnshire, was left disabled by a medical blunder at birth and has won £10.8million compensation at the High Court
Family break: Andy and Kate on hols with Nicholas and Milly

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Kate said that Milly’s iron will and resolve are a constant source of amazement.
She revealed: “Milly is so determined and even when she is frustrated she keeps trying. She’s such an amazing girl.
"She never gives up and I’m so proud of how she copes. Sometimes she has tantrums and wants to storm off to her room – but she can’t open or slam doors.
i push the door until it’s almost closed so she can drive her power chair into it. It allows her to get her anger across but it’s really a joke between us.”
Andy is proud of how their daughter has been so brave – but still has a great sense of fun and mischief.
He said: “She can’t speak, walk and has great difficulty moving her arms and legs but her intellect is almost entirely there.
"I think she has the capability of getting some sort of GCSE or qualification one day.
"Milly’s such a special person and she is massively brave in how she copes with her problems. That’s one of the most amazing things about her.
"She is such fun to be with – she has a very infectious laugh and has a wicked sense of humour.
"If ever I trip over or make a mistake with something I say she’ll be in hysterics. She loves life, she loves people.”
Buttons located to the left, right and rear of her head enable her to steer her chair by moving her neck.
Milly loves all things Disney and has twice visited the Florida theme park – where she swam with dolphins along with her carer Kelly.

11 year old Milly Evans from Sleaford, Lincolnshire, was left disabled by a medical blunder at birth and has won £10.8million compensation at the High Court
Experience of a lifetime: Milly with dolphins and carer Kelly in Florida

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But her favourite hobby is sailing and the compensation will allow her to buy a special chair so she can control the rudder and sails with a joystick near her chin.
Andy said: “She loves sailing but it is very scary for me to watch.
“It’s fine when she is with an instructor but soon she’ll be able to sail solo.”
Milly attends the St Francis Special School in Lincoln and stays in touch with her friends using texts and emails.
She is also extremely close to her brother Nicholas, seven.
Andy said: “They get on so well and are together the whole time. The only time they will scrap is if Milly ­accidentally thumps Nicholas.
“But he knows she doesn’t mean it so they end up cuddling to say sorry. That’s amazing for us to see.” 
Nicholas ­accompanied Milly to the High Court on Monday where Judge Sir Robert Nelson told her: “You and your parents have done wonderfully so far and I wish you and your family all the very best.”
The judge also paid tribute to Andy, Kate and Nicholas.

11 year old Milly Evans from Sleaford, Lincolnshire, was left disabled by a medical blunder at birth and has won £10.8million compensation at the High Court
Head for heights: Flying with her dad, former Red Arrow Andy

Albanpix
He added: “You have done a fantastic job and the love and devotion given to Milly with her problems has been enormous.”
Solicitor Denise Stephens, who represented the Evans family for law firm Shoosmiths, said: “Milly is an amazing girl with a beautiful smile and a sense of humour.
“Because she requires round-the-clock care it was crucial we were able to secure a compensation award of this size to provide for Milly’s needs throughout the rest of her life.”
Andy, who now works for the Blades aerobatic display team, said: “Every parent would fight very hard for their child to get the best.
“What we want to give her is the opportunity to maximise her potential. We’re not going to force Milly to do things but we feel very strongly that we should open up doors for her.
“The technology is there to help her lead a normal life, but it costs money.”
Kate said a world of opportunity now awaited her daughter. She said: “I’m looking forward to finding out what her future will be.
“The world’s her oyster now and she has the chance to fulfil her potential. It’s all in her hands.”

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