Babies born before 24 weeks in England sometimes are denied potentially life-saving medical care because they are not considered viable.
Zoe Ambrose learned this while she was in labor with her daughter after just 23 weeks of pregnancy. The British mom said she had to beg doctors to save her daughter’s life, The Sun reports.
“I’d been in labor for an hour before a doctor told me they didn’t legally have to save my baby because she was going to be born before 24 weeks,” she told the news outlet.
The doctors listened to Ambrose’s desperate pleas for her daughter, and agreed to do their best to save baby Paige’s life.
As a result, today little Paige is alive and well at home with her parents.
Ambrose said her pregnancy with Paige was a surprise. She said she was using birth control and did not realize she was pregnant until the second trimester.
Though surprised, the British mom said she and her partner, Arnie Fowler, excitedly began preparing for their baby. Then, one day at work, Ambrose said she began to bleed.
“I’d only just found out I was pregnant and suddenly I was in labor,” she remembered.
At the hospital, Ambrose received one piece of bad news after another. First, doctors said they would not try to save her daughter’s life because she would be born before 24 weeks, generally considered the point of viability, according to the report.
“I felt so helpless,” Ambrose remembered. “I couldn’t let my little girl die without a fight. I begged them to do everything they could to save her life and in the end they agreed.”
Doctors then cautioned her that Paige’s chances of survival were very slim – about 25 percent, she said. Ambrose said she was heartbroken, but she refused to completely give up hope.
Paige was born in August of 2015 weighing 1 pound, 5 ounces. She spent the first four months of her life in the hospital, battling a hemorrhage in her lungs and bleeding on her brain, the report states.
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“I sat by her every day, willing her to pull though,” her mother said.
Doctors allowed Paige’s parents to take her home on December 16, 2015 – just a few weeks after her due date, the report states. Today, her parents said she is doing well.
“Paige will always suffer with diabetes and tests for her eyes are ongoing, but she is expected to live a long and full life,” Ambrose said. “We didn’t know that Paige was coming, but now she’s here we are so grateful for our little miracle.”
Twins Imogen and Annabelle Weir are another example of babies surviving before 24 weeks. Born at 23 weeks in April 2016, they are believed to be the youngest and smallest twins to be born and survive in Scotland, according to the BBC.
Their mother, Claire Weir, recently told reporters: “The consultant told us that if the girls had been born just two years ago they wouldn’t have survived — that’s how fast medical technology is advancing. They have surprised everyone. They will always be our little miracles.”
Stories like Paige’s and the Weir twins’ are prompting calls to change abortion laws in the UK. Abortions are legal for any reason up to 24 weeks and later in limited cases. Many argue that abortions should be prohibited once babies are viable outside the womb, and more babies now are surviving at 23 weeks.
“I think it shows that as medical science continues to improve and improve, the so-called time of viability where a baby can be born alive and survive outside the womb, is going to be pushed lower and lower,” Peter Williams, Executive Officer for Right to Life, stated to Premier in January. “What this should really tell us is that the abortion limit as we have it, given the humanity of the unborn child, this arbitrary limit of 24 weeks should really be pushed back further.”
Earlier this year, a study out of Duke University found that more babies are surviving at the 23 week mark. The researchers found a “small but significant drop in fatalities for babies born between 23 and 37 weeks gestation,” as well as a decrease in premature babies manifesting with neurophysiological problems, the Daily Mail reported.