Thursday, May 22, 2008

24 weeks to live

Amazing story of the survival of a baby born at 22 weeks gestation. Doctors thought she was 24 weeks and so fought to save her - had they had known her real age, they would have left her to die. Something very wrong here.

The tiniest survivor: How the 'miracle' baby born two weeks before the legal abortion limit clung to life against all odds

Because this bright, beguiling toddler was born at just 21 weeks and six days into her gestation - a whole two weeks before the existing abortion cut-off.

She is the world's youngest premature baby ever to survive and the image of her tiny feet poking out between the fingers of a doctor's hand were used to support calls for the lowering of the 24-week legal limit on abortion.

... 'I realised that if the doctors wrongly believed I was 21 weeks pregnant, they would fight to save my baby as soon as they thought she was 24 weeks.

'It was the first lie I had ever told in my life, but I knew it could make the difference between life and death.'

From that moment on, doctors believed that Sonja's pregnancy was two weeks further advanced than it really was. But she still faced an agonising three-week wait before they would save the baby if she gave birth.

... 'I told them the truth, that she had been born at just 21 weeks and six days, and at first they didn't believe me.

'Then I told them to check my IVF records, and the date of my implantation. One of the doctors came back with a chart, which confirmed her age. They started saying it was a miracle - they would never have attempted to save her if they'd known.'

... Sonja says: 'When I look at my happy, laughing baby, and think that she could have been legally aborted and just left to die, it makes me feel physically ill.

'I hope the miracle of her survival shows the whole world that a fighting spirit can overcome incredible odds.

'I would never have an abortion, and I hope my daughter never has one. But I know it is up to individual choice. I just hope that doctors work to lower the age of viability, the stage at which they will try to save a premature baby.

'To watch her laughing in her Daddy's arms and then to think that she could have been a foetus aborted onto a slab, still gasping for breath, is unthinkable.

'I don't want the miracle of Amillia's birth to be overtaken by the abortion debate in America and the UK. But I do want the world to see how cheeky, happy, normal and loved she is, and hopefully this will persuade doctors to give other tiny babies the chance of life.'

How many mistakes do doctors make in the other direction, allowing 24+ week babies to die? How many 22 week old babies are left to die, but could have survived if given medical attention? Who decides these arbitrary numbers and why aren't we erring on the side of caution, on the side of life?

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