Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The baby that refused to die

The BBC has the full story and AmP has some commentary:

Gabriel Jones was not growing in his mother's womb so parents Rebecca and Mark of Staffordshire decided to take the medical staff's advice.

But, despite a number of operations designed to end his life, Gabriel instead began to grow.

He and brother Ieuan were successfully delivered by caesarean section.

Rebecca Jones, 35, of Lightwood, said that thinking Gabriel was going to die was the most horrendous experience she and her family had been through.

"It was a bit of a nightmare to say the least," she said.

The problems were first noticed when Rebecca went for her 20-week scan. Gabriel was found to be half the size of his brother.

"He wasn't growing and he wasn't putting on weight like babies should," she said.

"At 22 weeks I went to North Staffordshire's maternity unit with pre-eclampsia. At that point I thought we were going to lose both of them."

'Dangerous size'

Two weeks later she attended Birmingham Women's Hospital where the news was getting worse.

"Gabriel had slowed right down. He was not moving or growing and his heart had swelled to a dangerous size.

"At the end of the day I wanted both of them.

"I was carrying both of them and I wanted both of them desperately.

"But it was looking like it was not going to be."

The family realised they had to make a decision. Medical staff had explained that if things continued as they were Ieuan could also suffer.

"We had to make the decision. It was not a matter of if he died, he was going to die.

"It was a case that when he died there was a high risk that we would have lost Ieuan as well."

Opposite effect

So, at 25 weeks, on 13 February, staff at Birmingham Women's Hospital took the decision to sever Gabriel's umbilical cord to cut off his blood supply.

However, that was unsuccessful so later the twins' placenta was cut in half.

"No-one expected him to live through but it had the total opposite effect and he started to grow."

The twins were born by emergency caesarean at 31 weeks and now need no treatment at all.

The family have since raised more than £4,000 for the two maternity units.
I think AmP's final statement is the most important: "The presumption is life, not death." Contemplate that for a while as we consider the unquestioning power so often given doctors over every aspect of our lives.