Doctors Left Lily for Dead Before She Was Born, But Her Parents Refused to Sign a DNR

International   |   Sarah Zagorski   |   Jul 22, 2015   |   10:46AM   |   London, England

In the United Kingdom, baby Lily was born at 24-weeks but her parents say she would have died if they took their doctor’s advice.

According to the Daily Mail, at Southend University Hospital Lily’s parents were asked to sign a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Form because staff believed she wouldn’t survive. Thankfully, they did not sign it and instead asked to be transferred to another hospital.

Lily’s father explained, “Telling them to stick that form was the best thing we have ever done. The medics had argued the baby’s chances of surviving without serious disability were slim, and that the most ‘humane’ thing to do was to let her slip away.” He added, “It’s like playing cards. You can’t fold. You’ve got to play the next hand. And we did, and Lily is here. If we’d signed that form, I don’t believe Lily would be here today.”

Lily’s mother was transferred to Homerton Hospital and delivered her baby four days later. Lily weighted just 1Ib 6oz and stayed in the neo-natal unit for more than three months. Her father, who wants to remain anonymous, said the other hospital was “preparing to hand me my daughter in a box” but he refused to give up on her. He said, “Never give up, that’s my motto.”

Now Lily weighs 4lbs 8oz, is feeding from a bottle and should be able to go home soon. The couple is so glad they decided on a different hospital because the team at Homerton delayed Lily’s birth for three days and did everything they could to ensure her survival. Lily’s mother said, “She is absolutely fabulous. She’s doing so well and is guzzling her bottles down.”

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Lily’s father concluded, “They fought every inch of the way and we are so grateful to them.” The chief nurse at Southend Hospital, Cheryl Schwarz, said they have launched an investigation into the incident. Additionally, she explained that the hospital follows a “framework” from the British Associations of Perinatal Medicine that for babies born at 23-weeks it is appropriate to chose not to resuscitate.

It’s incredible disheartening that Lily’s initial doctors didn’t fight for her life, especially since more and more micropreemies (babies born before 26-weeks) are surviving. The Telegraph shared that from the 1970s to the 1990s doctors typically would not treat a baby born before 23-24 weeks. Sometimes they would ventilate the baby but otherwise the baby was left alone. The medical problems these babies faced included everything from underdeveloped lungs to brain problems; however, these issues are no longer considered “untreatable.”

Currently, the youngest baby to survive a premature birth was delivered at 21 weeks, and the record of the world’s most premature baby belongs to Canadian James Elgin Gill. James was expected to die at birth, but he survived and in 2006 was a healthy teenager headed off to college.