Hospital let 22-Week Preemie Die Despite Mother’s Urgent Pleas

Hospital let 22-week preemie die despite mother’s urgent pleas

by Peter Baklinski

  • Wed Apr 16, 2014 15:15 EST
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ESSEX, UK, April 16, 2014 ( – A UK hospital has apologized to a woman four years after doctors and staff let her 22-week premature son die in her arms within an hour of being born, despite the mother’s urgent pleas for help.

Tracy Godwin, who in 2010 held her newborn son Tom for 46 minutes before he ceased breathing, said she was never told about the hospital’s policy stating that babies born before 23 weeks would be left to die.

Tracy Godwin

But the hospital has not indicated that it has changed its policy, only that it now has new guidelines in place for staff to deal properly with such cases.

A coroner has determined Southend Hospital in Essex made a series of errors including poor communication, lack of qualified staff remaining with Godwin after the delivery, and inadequate counseling following the baby’s death, reported Daily Mail.

Godwin said if she had known the hospital’s policy, she would have given birth somewhere else. The traumatic experience still haunts her.

“They put him in my arms and he cried and was wriggling around. I could feel him breathing and see his eyelashes 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.”

It was not until 6 weeks after the death of her son that Godwin learned about the non-resuscitation policy during a meeting with senior hospital staff.

Current UK ethical guidelines employed by many hospitals suggest that preterm infants “less than or equal to 22 weeks’ gestation” be left to die while receiving “compassionate care only.”

A baby girl born prematurely at a UK hospital in 2012 barely escaped death after doctors discovered that she weighed just enough to be considered “viable” according to their standards of infant care, not realizing that it was a pair of scissors left accidentally on the scale that bumped up the baby’s weight to their acceptable standard.

Godwin, who has received undisclosed damages from the hospital, believes that her ordeal has “brought about significant change at the hospital, and the fact that no other mother will go through what I went through.”

The coroner ruled that the baby died from natural causes and that the hospital’s lack of care “did not affect the outcome.”


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