Premature baby dies as guidelines say he was born too early to save

Sarah Capewell watched her premature baby die after doctors refused to help him - because he was born two days too early for them to try to save him.

Miss Capewell gave birth to a baby son when she was 21 weeks and 5 days into her pregnancy and pleaded with doctors and midwives to admit the newborn to a special care baby unit.

Staff at James Paget Hospital, in Gorleston, Norfolk, told her that if her son Jayden had been born two days later, at 22 weeks, they would have tried to help him.

She is now fighting for a change to guidance drawn up by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics in 2006, and strengthened by advice published by the British Association of Perinatal Medicine last year, which says intensive care should never be given to babies below 22 weeks gestation, and rarely to those below 23 weeks.

She has created a website, Justice for Jayden, campaigning for changes, which has already attracted 5,000 members, including scores of women who have suffered a similar plight.

Medical guidance for NHS hospitals says the low chance of survival for babies born below 23 weeks means they should not be given interventions which could cause suffering.

A national study last year found 16 per cent survival at 23 weeks, compared with 47 per cent one week later.

Miss Capewell, 23, from Great Yarmouth had previously suffered five miscarriages and had a complicated pregnancy with bleeding almost throughout.

Last October, at 21 weeks and four days, she went into labour.

Miss Capewell says her increasingly desperate pleas to assist her baby were met with a brusque response from doctors, who said she should consider the labour as a miscarriage, rather than a birth.

After asking doctors to consider his human right to life, she claims she was told: “He hasn’t got a human right, he is a foetus”.

In the early hours of the morning, Jayden was born. To his mother’s astonishment, he stretched out his arms and legs.

Nevertheless, her pleas for a cot to be found for her son in the special care baby unit were rejected.

Two hours later, Miss Capewell’s son died.

Miss Capewell said: “There are thousands of women who have experienced this. The doctors say the babies won’t survive, but how do they know if they aren’t giving them a chance?”

Prof Jane Hawdon, a consultant neonatologist at University College London Hospital, which has had several successful births in the 22nd week, said she supported the national guidelines, but said “extreme sensitivity” was needed to handle such situations.

“There are reams of evidence to support the guidance. The research hasn’t shown any substantial improvements for births under 23 weeks,” she added.

“The feeling among professionals is that we’ve probably got as far as we can, and for every week of prematurity the outlook gets worse.”

James Paget University Hospital Foundation trust said it could not comment on individual cases, but said it followed national guidance.

If I were in a car accident, would the doctors deny treatment on the basis that my chances of life are not that good?

Seems to me there is more going on here then just a harsh look at probabilities.

After asking doctors to consider his human right to life, she claims she was told: “He hasn’t got a human right, he is a foetus”.

We are living in such an evil world :(:mad:

Miss Capewell said: “There are thousands of women who have experienced this. The doctors say the babies won’t survive, but how do they know if they aren’t giving them a chance?”

National guidance my £$%^. The baby was born alive and should have been given a chance.

50 years ago my mother was told that her baby was dead. She was 5 months pregnant .They left the baby in her for another month and when she aborted she nearly bled to death. Even now we don’t know if we had a brother or sister. No one bothered to tell her. My brother or sister was thrown away. My father fainted when he saw his wife.

When she became pregnant with me at age 46, they wanted to abort me. She was sent for, by letter, to the hospital where she had already borne 3 healthy children.

My father dragged the doctor over the desk. Not allowed now - assault.

He asked how they dare think about this as the authorities knew they were Catholic and would not even think of this for a moment. Anyway, I looked after my mother and she died in June this year. She was 99. A month after I got so tired and didn’t understand the situation with her I agreed and sent her to hospital. Within 2 days she had bed sores and within 2 months she was dead. I listened to the doctors. I know that if she had been with me at home she would have thrived and lived to see her 100th birthday. She wanted this so much. She was let down. Too old. Now we have too young by a few days.

How do they know? Every one of us who is conceived has a soul. Some of us don’t come to life in the world but we are all precious. Those who draw breath are alive in this world and should be treated as the same as anyone else. With love and understanding, even if it is difficult.

Given this is the exact same kind of policies that would be enstated by boards in the proposed House health care bill one would conclude that maybe Sarah Palin wasn’t to off the mark when she refered to them as death panels. Remember the purpose of this bill is to make health care cheaper - you do that by denying services.

You’ve hit the nail on the head … that is what we have in the UK.

Such a sad story; I can only imagine how that poor mother must have felt. The callousness of the medical personnel (“he hasn’t got a human right. He is a foetus”) is appalling.

We’ve been concerned for 5+ months now about a friend’s baby, born at 25 weeks, who is still having problems in the NICU, so all of this strikes a chord.

This story raises serious ethical and medical questions; at what gestational age should doctors “pull out all the stops” in order to save an extremely premature baby? 22 weeks? How does one determine that?

Should it be up to the mother/parents only, or does a doctor or hospital have any say in the matter, due to the very slim chance or survival very early preemies have, and the enormous cost involved?

Should simple palliative care (IV nutrition), at the very least, be routine at 22+ weeks? Earlier? What constitutes “extraordinary means” in these cases?

Lots to think about.

Maybe the hospital staff made one two many mistakes to live. If I was the child’s father I would have strangled the staff with my bare hands…and I have experience with such things too.

More proof that modern doctors continue to profane their professions.

Such a thing must anger God greatly. I pray for the staff’s souls.

Sad, poor little preemie. At the NICU where my baby stayed a 12 ounce baby survived.

What I don’t understand is how they were able to assertain the exact age of the baby.

When my son was born, they first thought he was 28 weeks, then 30 weeks because he was larger than the average 28 week old. Finally they decided on 29 weeks. (I gave birth at a hospital where my doctor wasn’t affiliated.)

When I pulled out my NFP charts, I realized he was 28 weeks, 6 days old.

Also, I don’t understand why they did not try to stop the labor… that seems like just bad medicine…even if she were miscarrying, wouldn’t the doctors try to prevent it?

Sick evil twisted world. I pray for Jesus to come back, but I also pray for him to forebear, because when he does, the punishment will be unimaginable.

In my experience with a preemie, it is one day at a time. My baby became sick with a septic infection. He was on a ventilator for a few days. A mom of another preemie told me her baby was not supposed to survive, she had a brain hemorrage, and had gone down to 1 pound. She is now 11 years old and fine.

What preemies get is often “palliative care” warmth, fluids, a c-pap to help them breathe. And monitoring. And prayers.

I don’t believe it was too cumbersome to try to save this little baby. maybe he was not destined to survive, but at least they could have tried.

The story really doesn’t contain lots of details; one would think they would try to stop labor…maybe they did and it didn’t work, or maybe things had progressed too far.

I would hope that, as that baby was so borderline, at the very least he would have received warmth, fluids, c-pap, etc., but it appears he did not.

Or maybe they just assumed that labor couldn’t be stopped so why waste government money on drugs to try and stop it.

Coming soon to a hospital near you, America. :mad:

The thing with preemies, is sometimes that is all they need to get to the next level. When I had my preemie I learned it isn’t the size of the baby so much as lung function, and immune system etc. While my son was in the NICU, there was a little girl who was born at 24 weeks. I asked the nurse if she would be ok…she said she didn’t know, but she survived the first 24 hours so that was a hopeful sign.

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