Student says her dreams of being an actor were ruined by excessive height caused by undiagnosed tumour
A woman who says her life and dreams of being an actor were ruined after she grew to a height of 1.96 metres (6ft 5in) because of an undiagnosed tumour is suing the NHS for £2m.
Kate Woodward, 20, says the problem with her pituitary gland, which went untreated between October 2001 and September 2005, also caused problems with her back, knees and teeth.
Woodward says her size has left her unable to buy clothes or shoes on the high street and “marked her out as a freak”.
She has abandoned plans to be a performer and is now studying for a degree in screenwriting and producing, and hopes to get a job at the BBC.
Her counsel, Stephen Grime QC, told the high court in London that it was a very rare and tragic case. The judge, Mr Justice Baker, is assessing compensation.
Grime said a failure to diagnose Woodward’s pituitary tumour when she was a girl led to excessive growth, bone abnormality and many psychological consequences.
“We say it is a case where you should approach the matter on the basis that her life has been ruined,” he said. “Not taken away, not completely ruined, not in the same category as a brain damaged tetraplegic, but in a whole series of ways her life has been grievously affected.”
He said she endured unpleasant treatment and still needs regular injections. He said the condition had disrupted her childhood, schooling and friendships. “She has had to give up the idea of being a performer herself, which was a childhood ambition. She was one of those precocious youngsters who, even before secondary school, was writing scripts and performing in front of her family.
“The likelihood is she would have wanted to have some kind of performing career. That is now gone.”
He added: “She is acutely conscious of her size and she feels it has marked her out as a freak.”
Woodward, whose family now live in Sidmouth, Devon has brought proceedings over treatment at St James’s University hospital and Leeds general infirmary when they lived in the city.
Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS trust has admitted clinical negligence but disputes the amount of damages due, arguing for an award of just under £700,000.
Woodward told the judge she wanted her future treatment to be provided privately.
She said: “I don’t really want to be with the NHS any more because of what they have done to me. They have lost my trust.
“My plan was to do acting and writing together, so if I could get my face on TV, it would be an extra way to get into the writing business.”
The hearing, which is expected to last five days, was adjourned until Wednesday.
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