Sonia begged doctors to try to save her premature twins when they were born at about 22 weeks of pregnancy in 2019.
In the midst of her desperate pleas, the Edmonton, Alberta, Canada mother said she was made to feel cruel. She said the medical team told her that her sons would suffer and they had no chance at life. Resigning to the tragic news, Sonia and Roy, the babies’ father, held their sons in their arms and watched them die.
Now, the family believes their sons, Cloud and Thunder, could have survived.
Recently, the family shared their story with The Wilberforce Project, a Canadian pro-life organization, to urge hospitals to revise their standards of care for premature babies to reflect modern medical advances.
“I share our story in honor of our sons who I carried for 22 weeks and who I will love for a lifetime. I hope no one ever again watches their infants die while they ask for help and receive no care. Babies have the right to medical assistance like anyone else, and parents should have the right to hope,” Sonia told the organization.
In 2019, Sonia said she gave birth to Thunder weighing 10.2 ounces and Cloud weighing 12 ounces. The boys were estimated to be somewhere between 21 weeks and three days and 22 weeks and one day gestation – just a few days short of the 23-week mark that most Canadian hospitals consider viability, according to the report.
“… the medical team used Thunder’s smaller measurement and classified them both at 21 weeks and denied them care,” Sonia said. “I begged the medical team to help them. They told me there was no chance for them as their lungs were not developed. They implied that I was being cruel to want to save them as they would be in pain and have a zero percent chance at life.”
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Realizing that their sons would only be alive for a short time, Sonia said she and Roy held them in their arms until they died.
“Their little bodies were perfectly formed and so indescribably beautiful,” she remembered. “We held them and watched them move, wave and squirm. We also watched them struggle to get enough oxygen, change color and die in my arms.”
After about 1.5 hours, both twins died, according to the report.
Afterward, Sonia said she began to do more research and realized that her sons may have survived if doctors had treated them.
She pointed to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, which reports high survival rates for babies born as early as 22 weeks of pregnancy. In a recent article in the “Journal of Pediatrics,” doctors at the hospital reported a 70-percent survival rate for babies born at 22 weeks at the hospital over a 10-year period.
“Losing our sons is the most tragic pain I have ever experienced,” Sonia said. “Now knowing that they may have been able to survive if they had received care, is a new, deeper, unjust pain that I can’t describe.”
She continued: “I could accept their deaths more easily if at least some attempt was made. But to watch your children die and no one is doing anything…oh that pain is an overwhelming, helpless, nagging pain that grasps my heart, my breath, and many times, consumes my whole being.”
Sonia told The Wilberforce Project that she wants other parents to know that there is hope for premature infants, and she wants hospitals to revise their standards of care to meet these modern advances.
Research shows that more premature babies are surviving and thriving thanks to modern medicine.
A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that more premature infants are surviving at 22 weeks of pregnancy. This and other research recently prompted the British Association of Medicine to issue new guidelines encouraging medical treatment for babies born at 22 weeks of pregnancy. Previously, the guidelines did not recommend treatment until 24 weeks.
The earliest known premature baby to survive outside the womb was born at 21 weeks and four days of pregnancy. In 2017, the journal Pediatrics highlighted the girl’s survival story. The smallest recorded surviving baby weighed less than 9 ounces at birth.