NHS Chief: Babies born before 23 weeks should be left to die

What a callous bastard right? He probably inspects babies before casting them off in the forest. After if it was good enough for the Spartans then it is good enough for Chorley.
 The basis for this story?
Why the good people at

“A 22-week-old pre-term baby fought for life for 46 minutes but died in his mother’s arms after hospital staff refused to treat him.Tracy Godwin gave birth to her son Tom on 6 March last year when she was in the 22nd week of her pregnancy.”

Not to make light of your subject matter but you are making it sound like the finale to Apocalypse Now.

In the UK the current rules are that children premature to 23 weeks are given DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) orders. The reason behind that is prior to 23 weeks the lungs are insufficiently developed and are not yet ready to breathe. Intubating a child at this age means that the child will forever be linked upto artificial respiration no matter the actual prognosis with all the side effects that entails.

“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.”

 How would you tell brain damage in a 22 week old premature birth? The indicators for brain damage appear as developmental milestones, the effect of brain damage won’t be known until later often as arrested development as the child fails to thrive beyond a certain point.

 Earlier this month a leading NHS consultant said that babies born up to 23 weeks should not be resuscitated. 

Dr Daphne Austin, Consultant in Public Health Medicine for West Midlands Specialised Commissioning team, believes it is too expensive to do so.”

I am sure she didn’t say that. I am sure what she meant was if a child born prior to 23 weeks requires resuscitation then the chances that it’s lungs can maintain life without serious side effects and the side effects of that would require incredible amounts of resources throughout the child’s life and that it would not be economically feasible or even sensible to do because the child will either forever be stuck on a ventilator or suffer from crippling brain damage that means they will eventually become a state ward as the parents get too old to care for the child. Just because the heart beats and the lungs transfer oxygen does not mean that the child is viable, one has to think of what makes a person. The pro-lifers think the mere heart beat is sufficient. What makes a human alive is the brain. What happens to these children is a slow death where parts of their brain are lost forever.
I am of the opinion that it is better to let the child die in peace than force it to live either in a prison of a body or forever broken mentally. This is just bad reporting. The stats are with me. Less than 9% of children make it after being born before the 23 week. Of the survivors, only 1% have no lasting damage to them. The reporting is such that we feel pity for the mother and rage against the callous midwife. 
It’s not a callous decision, it is one done with the patient’s best interest in hand. That sometimes it is better to let a child die than to save it’s life. It is one of the harshest of things to learn that sometimes it is not worth saving someone and the best you can do is give them a death free from suffering and to enjoy their time left than to drag it out to the bitter and painful end. 


  1. says

    Jenn, at 23 weeks, the survival rate of babies with medical intervention is under 50% (at 26 weeks it's 95%. It's why we set the limit on abortion at 24 weeks infact because the survival rate is above 50%).

    There is high morbidity as well which means that there is a good chance the child will be forever damaged. This is actually a decision being made for the child's interest. Would you live your whole life attached to a breathing machine that will kill you by respiratory tract infection (Incredibly Common). A ventilator is meant to be temporary measure to deal with patients who have correctible respiratory failure or to maintain a brain dead body for a few days till it's viable for organ donation.

    It's not saving their life, it's dooming them to a horrid death. If your lungs don't function there is absolutely nothing we can do to give you oxygen. The child will either have suffered severe hypoxic brain damage or an infection which would have killed him slowly and painfully.

    This is arguing from the point of view of someone who assumes all babies are viable. Some of them aren't and saving their lives is not moral. The medical treatment would doom them permanently to a life of ill health. The rules are clear because the statistics are incredibly clear on this.

    Saving children who are not viable leads to them dying if not now a lot later. It's basically burning money to torture children with the sole reason being that it makes parents happy. No one wins in this situation because the doctors do know how horrid it is to die that way (My grandfather killed himself rather than suffer the neurological damage from his diabetes. He died painfully but to him it was better than not having any choices but to be a shell of his humanity)

    Would you live your life forever in a bed with the inability to do anything ever and with bits of your mind forever gone?

    I wouldn't.

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