When Kerrie Evans went to her first prenatal visit in October 2009, she says she told her doctor she was concerned about cystic fibrosis, but she was never offered screening to see if she was a carrier for the disease, she had trouble contacting genetic counselors, and her doctor never asked if she got genetic counseling. Her daughter, now almost 6, ended up being born with cystic fibrosis, and Evans has filed a so-called "wrongful birth" lawsuit against her healthcare practitioners, claiming she's due almost $14.5 million in damages since the care team didn't diagnose the girl's condition and, thus, Evans didn't have a chance to terminate the pregnancy, the AP reports. Evans filed the lawsuit in 2011, but a Montana jury just heard opening arguments in the case Wednesday. As the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported earlier this week, Evans' lawyer says the little girl is the "love of [Evans'] life," and the mom is suing to "make her child's life as happy as possible."
Of the damages Evans seeks, $10 million is for the girl's medical and psychological care; she's said to have a "severe form" of the inherited disease, in which mucus-producing cells produce a thick, sticky fluid that hurts the lungs and digestive system. Nowadays, treatment has improved to the point that life expectancy for patients is nearing 40: "It's far from the death sentence or life not worth living that some would have you believe," an attorney for one of the healthcare practitioners told the jury. The lawyers for the care team say Evans only asked about Down syndrome, and that a doctor did talk to her about cystic fibrosis, but she turned down a blood test that would have told her if she was a carrier. "Dr. Peters did not give (the girl) cystic fibrosis," another attorney told the jury. "She was either going to be born with cystic fibrosis or (she) was not going to be born." (Here's why another couple also sued for wrongful birth.)