Should 23 week babies be resuscitated or allowed to die? Featureworld interviewees Carla Hart and partner Antony Brown talk about their experience with baby Jed in an article in THE SUN newspaper today.
Carla and Antony, the parents of Jed, who was born at 23 weeks and is now an adorable and healthy toddler, have joined other mums and dads of premature babies who were upset at last night’s BBC2 documentary.
The documentary followed a number of parents who’d given birth to babies at this crucial 23rd week – which is currently on the cusp of life. But although a well structured documentary, which showed a surviving baby, one fighting for its life and one which, despite doctor’s best efforts, died shortly after being born – it struck me as somewhat one sided.
Seemingly edited to side with the view of the narrator – basically he claims 23 week babies should be left to die as it would spare them pain of treatment, and save the NHS money as so many grow up disabled and then need expensive care – it somewhat demonised parents who naturally wanted their child to live.
This was done by cutting to various medical staff who were ultimately critical of these parents, saying out of earshot if it were them, they would let their 23 week baby die.
And I was also rather baffled by one medic’s view that ‘we have reached the stage where we can push nature any further.’ Really? Thirty years ago IVF was just a dream; when I had my first child, the abortion limit was 28 weeks. So I found this an odd view from a professional – after all, whether we like it or not, science is always progressing and pushing boundaries so might well find a way to do without a uterus altogether in future. And so I’m sure in future younger babies will survive and doctors will perfect their treatment.
There was also a glaring anomaly. We had a physiotherapist saying such children, if they are disabled, are not given adequate funding on the NHS to help. She talked a lot and made it sound as if thousands of adult 23 weekers were in this situation, that it was a huge problem and sucking the NHS dry. But then we were also told that hardly any 23 week babies do actually survive (the narrator using this argument to further prove trying was also pointless as they usually died anyway after a few weeks) and it is only in the last few years such babies have been treated. And I can think of many other things that cost the NHS far, far more. Alcohol for one…
Which brings me to the main point. If you are ill tomorrow and become disabled, should doctors decide you might be too much of a drain on the NHS and let you die? Where do you draw the line?
Yes, life isn’t perfect. It might be painful and involve a struggle. But even if their premature baby does die, parents I’ve spoken to all say they need to feel they did all they could to give that child the chance of life.
Read about the 23 week twins
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