Another British mom said a hospital left her premature son to die because he was born before the legal abortion limit.
Camille Magill’s experience is one more on a growing list of families who say their babies were born near the point of viability but denied potentially life-saving treatment.
Magill, who lives in England, said her son Alfie gasped for air and then died shortly after he was born at 23 weeks of pregnancy in 2015, according to The Sun. She said she was told that Alfie was stillborn.
Hospitals in the United Kingdom often do not attempt to treat babies born before 24 weeks or those born weighing less than 1 pound, because they say they are not likely to survive. Abortions also are legal up to 24 weeks in the UK.
Though 24 weeks is considered the standard point of viability, new studies indicate babies born before 24 weeks are surviving at higher rates than ever before. Many argue that the point of viability should now be about 23 weeks.
Magill said she went into labor when she was 23 weeks pregnant with Alfie, and gave birth to him at the Ormskirk and District General Hospital in England. She said she and her then-partner Eddie Farrell were told Alfie had died during childbirth, but both of them saw signs of life in their son.
“We could see his heart beating through his chest,” she remembered. “He was still breathing and he moved his hands. … We were begging them to get the doctors to come back but they said it was too late to intervene. It was horrible.”
Here’s more from the report:
She claims when Alfie’s tiny body was placed in her arms so she could say goodbye, she believes his heart was still beating and he was gasping for air.
The 35-year-old said she begged a midwife to get the doctors back to examine her son, but they didn’t return until he had already passed away. …
Ormskirk and District General Hospital bosses said an external investigation confirmed doctors acted within the best interests for Camille and her baby.
However, they acknowledged there were “failings” to keep Camille informed of the progress of the investigation.
Camille said a report into the incident that she received said: “It appears that the midwife had confirmed death… [however] a doctor must confirm death.”
Magill said she and her partner thought the doctors would try to save Alfie if he was born alive.
“It felt like their decision was that my baby was worthless as they decided not to intervene,” she said. “It was an horrendous thing to experience. I feel racked with guilt that I should have done more, that I should have demanded someone else check he was dead.”
Magill continued: “It’s absolutely shocking that babies who could survive are not being helped because they are under 24 weeks. There have been babies born under 24 weeks that have survived so more should be done.”
A hospital spokesperson expressed his condolences to the family, but maintained that the hospital acted in the “best interests” of Alfie and his mother, according to The Sun.
Mothers in England and Scotland have reported similar treatment of their premature babies.
Carlie Underhill, 23, of Hereford, England, watched her newborn son Kian-John die last year when he was born at just 22 weeks of pregnancy. Because he was born so early, doctors described Kian-John’s birth as a miscarriage, and did not try to save his life, his mother said.
Scottish mom Ashley Glass went through a similar experience with her son Dylan. She also is urging the UK health care system to change its guidelines for premature babies.
Glass gave birth to Dylan when she was 23 weeks pregnant in 2014. Dylan lived for just four minutes, and Glass said she had to watch in horror and desperation as she saw him struggle to breathe.
“It was so traumatic hearing him trying to breathe and watching him struggle and wriggle in pain in my mum’s arms …” she remembered. “I will never be able to get the image of my child suffering like that out of my head.”
The Underhill and Glass families said they hope their stories will convince the NHS to update its guidelines for premature babies and prompt hospitals to provide care to very premature infants like their sons.