Evie Toombes is suing her mother’s doctor for “wrongful conception.” The 20-year-old claims that she should never have been born. She believes the doctor’s incompetence caused her spinal cord illness. Toombes is looking for millions of dollars to cover her extensive medical costs.
Toombes, who suffers from spina bifida and lipomyelomeningocele, a rare condition in which the bones in the spine don’t develop enough and causes a permanent disability. Because of her illness, Evie Toombes has limited movement and sometimes has to be attached to medical tubes for 24 hours. She said that she can’t feel her legs.
She also has bowel and bladder issues and knows that if her condition worsens in the future, she will be constricted to a wheelchair.
The U.K. woman said that this could have been prevented if her mother’s general doctor, Dr. Philip Mitchell, had recommended that her mother take folic acid supplements during her pregnancy.
“It is her evidence she would have read up on it and wouldn’t have attempted to become pregnant until she was satisfied that she had protected herself as much as possible,” said Susan Rodway, attorney for the young girl.
Folic acid supplements are typically recommended for pregnant women because they are known to limit the baby’s chance of developing a birth defect. Doctors typically recommend women take folic acid while they are trying to conceive and during the first 12 weeks of their pregnancy.
Toombes hopes that if she collects damages she will be able to pay for all her medical needs.
According to court documents Toombes’ mother, Caroline Toombes, told the U.K. High Court that her doctor never told her to take the supplements. She said, “he told me it was not necessary. I was advised that if I had a good diet previously, I would not have to take folic acid.”
The lawsuit claims that folic acid supplements would have prevented the young woman’s illness. But the sides have very different stories about what happened.
Dr. Philip Mitchell says he is not liable for Toombes’ conditions. He claims he gave Caroline “reasonable advice” about her pregnancy. His attorney says the doctor would never tell a pregnant woman supplements are “not necessary.”
Despite her condition, Evie Toombes has big dreams. She hopes to one day compete in the Paralympics as a show jumper. Toombes is an equestrian and has won many competitions. She competes in the British Show jumping Association and does both para and able-bodied competitions.
In 2018, the young woman won the Inspirational Young Person Award at the WellChild Awards Ceremony for her advocacy work. Toombes has made it her mission to teach the world about her condition and other “invisible illnesses.”
On her website, she advertises herself as a public speaker about “invisible illnesses,” and says, “My mission is to raise awareness for invisible illnesses and especially help educate children in primary schools so that pupils with illnesses are included, understood and can thrive in the learning environment, without social barriers.”
She says that growing up she struggled relating to her peers and found that many people didn’t understand her illness because she didn’t look sick. Now, the young woman hopes to raise awareness about her condition and help others talk about their own invisible illnesses and removing the stigma around them.