This mother thought her son had a fighting chance

Posted by Shazy on Thursday, March 17, 2011

This mother thought her son had a fighting chance
They left my baby to die in my arms: This mother thought her son had a fighting chance when he was born at 22 weeks... but the hospital staff refused to help him
Holding her newborn son Tom for the first time, Tracy Godwin marvelled at his eyelashes, and counted every precious finger and toe.

After the drama of his arrival at just 22 weeks, she knew she had a little fighter in her arms.

But at a mere one pound, and battling to breathe, he would need all the help he could get. That help never came.

Forty-six minutes later, and despite her desperate pleas to midwives for assistance, Miss Godwin’s son died as she held him.

She has since been told that the hospital has a policy not to resuscitate babies born earlier than 24 weeks into pregnancy.

Yesterday Miss Godwin, who visits her little boy’s grave every day, told how she is haunted by fears she and her partner didn’t do enough to help their baby when the medics around her refused.

‘They put him in my arms and he cried and was wriggling around. I could feel him breathing and see his eyelashes and fingers and toes,’ she said.

‘But I kept thinking, “Where’s the incubator?” We were begging the midwives to do something to help him but no one was saying anything. He was not stillborn, he was trying to live.

‘If they had tried for an hour and said they couldn’t do anything more for him or he was severely brain damaged, that would have been different, but he wasn’t given a chance.’
Miss Godwin, 31, had been due to give birth to her first child on July 8 last year. She and her partner of two years were looking forward to becoming a family.

All went well until March 4 when she developed stomach pain and went to Southend Hospital in Essex. There, she was distraught to be told she was already in labour.

Put into a private room, she spent the next day in bed and was told by a doctor it might be possible to use a cervical stitch to prolong the pregnancy.

But in the early hours of March 6 – 22 weeks and two days into her pregnancy – she was in terrible pain and given the painkiller pethedine. Shortly afterwards she was aware of the midwife breaking her waters. She gave birth an hour later.

‘Because of the drug I wasn’t myself and I keep thinking if I hadn’t taken it and withstood the pain, maybe I would have had more fight in me to demand a doctor,’ she said.

‘We never saw one. It was a disgrace. I just kept crying and crying.

‘My partner was shouting at the midwives to help us but they just left us with Tom. We felt so alone, no one was helping us. I don’t know when, but I was suddenly aware Tom had gone.’

His tiny body was blessed by a priest and the couple went home later that day.

It was only four weeks later when they called a meeting with a consultant that Miss Godwin was given the news that resuscitating her baby was against hospital policy.

‘I just couldn’t believe it,’ she said. ‘I had all these questions about what had happened and why, and was just told: “I don’t know, it’s our policy.”

‘When you are pregnant you do not check what your hospital’s policy is on premature babies. To think he could have had a chance if he was born in a different hospital is just heartbreaking. You just assume the doctors will do everything they can to help you live.’

Miss Godwin said the tragedy led to the couple breaking up some months afterwards.

‘The grief tore us apart,’ she said. ‘We blamed each other for not doing more to put pressure on them to help him. I’m still grieving so much, I visit Tom’s grave every day.’

Miss Godwin, who lives in Southend-on-Sea, is still waiting for an inquest, which can take place only when the hospital submits a report on the incident.

Earlier this month, leading NHS official Dr Daphne Austin said resuscitating babies born under 23 weeks would ‘do more harm than good’ and that the £10million annual cost yielded ‘very marginal benefit’.

Miss Godwin said: ‘We spend a fortune on things like drug addiction. You can’t say £10million is too much when a baby’s life could be saved.’

Sarah Ballard-Smith, director of nursing at Southend Hospital, said: ‘I am very sorry and sad to hear of Miss Godwin’s experience. It is essential to inform the prospective parents regarding the expectation for infant survival. I can only apologise if this was not the case with Miss Godwin.’

Source: Dailymail