Showjumper, 20, with spina bifida sues her mother’s GP for “born in damaged condition”

A show jumping star with spina bifida sues a general practitioner saying she should never have been born because the doctor failed to tell her mother to take a crucial supplement that could have prevented the disease.



Evie Toombes, 20, claims millions in damages from Dr Philip Mitchell, claiming he did not advise his mother Caroline Toombes to take folic acid, which led the child to “be born in damaged condition “.

Evie, from Skegness, Lincolnshire, claims that if Dr Mitchell had told Caroline she needed to take the supplements to minimize the risk of spina bifida affecting her baby, she would have delayed her pregnancy until she had it. made.



Caroline, 50, went to see Dr Mitchell in February 2001, but despite discussions about folic acid during the consultation, she says she was not told about its importance in preventing spina bifida.

Dr Mitchell, who at the time worked at Hawthorn’s medical practice in Skegness, “categorically denies” any responsibility, saying he gave Caroline “reasonable advice”.



Evie is now filing a complaint with the High Court in London over her own “wrongful conception and birth”, claiming that without the doctor’s “negligence” she would never have been conceived and that “her prejudice and disability are due to this ”.

Her lawyer Susan Rodway QC said if Caroline had postponed her pregnancy, she would have had a “normal and healthy” baby – but who was a “genetically different person” from Evie.



Evie Toombes, 20, was born suffering from spina bifida but forged a career in show jumping, competing with both disabled and able-bodied riders.

Evie Toombes, 20, was born suffering from spina bifida but forged a career in show jumping, competing with both disabled and able-bodied riders.

Evie, pictured with her mother Caroline Toombes.  Evie claims that if the doctor had told her mother that she needed to take folic acid supplements to minimize the risk of spina bifida affecting her baby, she would have postponed her pregnancy until she did. - which means that Evie would never be born at all

Evie, pictured with her mother Caroline Toombes. Evie claims that if the doctor had told her mother that she needed to take folic acid supplements to minimize the risk of spina bifida affecting her baby, she would have postponed her pregnancy until she did. – which means that Evie would never be born at all

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex with Evie Toombes and brother Rocco at the annual WellChild Awards at the Royal Lancaster Hotel on September 4, 2018 in London

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex with Evie Toombes and brother Rocco at the annual WellChild Awards at the Royal Lancaster Hotel on September 4, 2018 in London

Doctors regularly educate expectant mothers about the benefits of taking folic acid supplements before conception and throughout the first 12 weeks of their pregnancy to avoid the risk of spina bifida.

What is spina bifida?

Spina bifida is a defect in the development of the spine and spinal cord that leaves space in the spine.

About 1,500 babies are born with spina bifida each year in the United States, according to the CDC. In the UK, around 1 in 1,000 babies are born with the disease.

Most cases are detected before birth, during the 20 week scan.

The most serious form of the disease is called myelomeningocele. In myelomeningocele, the spine remains open along the bones that make up the spine.

The membranes and spinal cord push to create a sac in the baby’s back.

This sometimes leaves the nervous system vulnerable to infections which can be fatal.

In most cases, surgery is done to close the gap in the spine after birth. But damage to the nervous system will usually have already occurred, resulting in:

  • partial or total paralysis of the lower limbs
  • bowel and urinary incontinence
  • loss of skin sensation

The court heard that Caroline Toombes, 50 – who is also an avid rider – went to see Dr Mitchell to discuss her plans to have a first baby in February 2001.

“It was a very precious decision to start a family, as she herself had lost her parents when she was young,” her daughter’s lawyer, Ms Rodway, told the judge.

“They had abstained from sex until they received counseling during this consultation.”

But despite the discussion about folic acid during the consultation, Caroline says she was not told by Dr Mitchell about its importance in preventing spina bifida.

“He told me it wasn’t necessary,” she told the judge. “I was told that if I had a good diet before, I wouldn’t have to take folic acid.”

Ms Rodway said that if Caroline had been properly counseled by Dr Mitchell, she would not have been able to conceive as quickly as she did.

She is said to have put her pregnancy plans on hold, started folic acid treatment, and then attempted to conceive, she claims.

“It was her testimony that she would have learned about it and would not have tried to get pregnant until she was convinced that she had protected herself as much as possible,” she said. .

After her birth in November 2001, Evie was diagnosed with lipomylomeningocoele (LMM), a form of neural tube defect in the spine resulting in permanent disability.

Her mobility is said to be “very limited” and she will become more and more dependent on a wheelchair as she ages, while she also suffers from bowel and bladder problems, the court said.

She previously spoke about her problems on the ITV show “Hidden Disabilities: What’s the Truth?” “

After her birth in November 2001, Evie was diagnosed with lipomylomeningocoele (LMM), a form of neural tube defect in the spine resulting in permanent disability.

After her birth in November 2001, Evie was diagnosed with lipomylomeningocoele (LMM), a form of neural tube defect in the spine resulting in permanent disability.

Evie, from Skegness, Lincolnshire, claims that if Dr Mitchell had told Caroline Toombes that she needed to take the supplements to minimize the risk of spina bifida affecting her baby, she would have delayed the pregnancy until she did. did.

Evie, from Skegness, Lincolnshire, claims that if Dr Mitchell had told Caroline Toombes that she needed to take the supplements to minimize the risk of spina bifida affecting her baby, she would have delayed the pregnancy until she did. did.

However, for Dr Phillips, Michael De Navarro QC denies any responsibility for what happened.

He told the judge that it was the doctor’s defense that he had given “reasonable advice” on whether to take folic acid supplements.

It was her usual practice to tell expectant parents that 400 micrograms should be taken by those preparing for pregnancy and throughout their first trimester once pregnant.

He says he would have said that if the mother had a good diet and such good levels of folic acid anyway, the supplements would be less important, but denies saying they were not necessary.

According to her own website, Evie describes her motto in life as: “Find a way, not an excuse.”

In addition to competing in show jumping, nationally and internationally, she educates children about invisible diseases and works at the University of Nottingham.

She writes, “I was born with some form of spina bifida … but having a passion in life gives me purpose and direction.”

In 2018, she met the Duke of Sussex and Megan Markle when she won the Young Person Inspiration Award at a Wellchild charity event.

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