Nationalized healthcare behind letting 22-week UK preemie die

jayden 1.jpgI wrote yesterday about a premature baby [Jayden Capewell, pictured right], who was left to die without being assessed by physicians for viability simply because at the gestational age of 21 weeks and 5 days he was born 2 days shy of the 22-week cut-off point.
I mentioned that I wondered if Britain’s nationalized healthcare program played a part in this baby’s death because of apparent rules cited in the article to withhold treatment of pregnant mothers in premature labor as well as very premature babies.
I’ve been doing more research on this. 1st, the Daily Mail story has been updated from yesterday. Its intro now reads…

Doctors left a premature baby to die because he was born 2 days too early, his devastated mother claimed yesterday.

sarah capewell.jpg

Sarah Capewell begged them to save her tiny son, who was born just 21 weeks and 5 days into her pregnancy – almost 4 months early.
They ignored her pleas and allegedly told her they were following national guidelines that babies born before 22 weeks should not be given medical treatment.
Miss Capewell, 23, said doctors refused to even see her son Jayden, who lived for almost 2 hours without any medical support.
James Paget Hospital in Norfolk refused to comment on the case but said it was not responsible for setting the guidelines relating to premature births.
A trust spokesman said: “Like other acute hospitals, we follow national guidance from the British Association of Perinatal Medicine regarding premature births.”
Miss Capewell, who has had 5 miscarriages, said the guidelines had robbed her son of a chance of life.
She said he was breathing unaided, had a strong heartbeat and was even moving his arms and legs, but medics refused to admit him to a special care baby unit.
Miss Capewell is now fighting for a review of the medical guidelines.
Medics allegedly told her that they would have tried to save the baby if he had been born 2 days later, at 22 weeks.


In fact, the medical guidelines for [National] Health Service hospitals state that babies should not be given intensive care if they are born at less than 23 weeks.
The guidance… is not compulsory but advises doctors that medical intervention for very premature children is not in the best interests of the baby, and is not “standard practice.”…
Guidance limiting care of the most premature babies provoked outrage when it was published 3 years ago….
Medical intervention would be given for a child born between 22 and 23 weeks only if the parents requested it and only after discussion about likely outcomes.
The rules… are followed by NHS hospitals….
The NHS spends an estimated £1 billion a year on their care….

As I said, I did more research on this and found that “Health Service” hospitals are part of the National Health Service (NHS), according to Wikipedia:

… the publicly-funded healthcare system in England…. The NHS provides healthcare to anyone normally resident in the United Kingdom with most services free at the point of use for the patient…. The NHS provides the majority of healthcare in England…. The NHS is largely funded from general taxation….

nhs header 2.jpgJames Paget Hospital, where Sarah labored and where Jayden was born, is an NHS hospital, according to Wiki.
The article also stated Capewell “was told that because she had not reached 22 weeks, she was not allowed injections to try to stop the labour, or a steroid injection to help to strengthen her baby’s lungs.”
This is a glaring example of the threat of nationalized healthcare to provide poor – or no – care to mothers in premature labor and very premature babies.

18 thoughts on “Nationalized healthcare behind letting 22-week UK preemie die”

  1. I wonder first if science now is actually that accurate with gestational age. Can science now pinpoint the day of conception/gestational age to the DAY?
    Secondly, I wonder if that was taken into account, that the gestaional age could have been off by a few days either way. But, with Sarah’s previous 5 miscarriages, did the “death panel’s” decision to not take any life-saving measures play a role in the their decision to let precious Jayden die because they felt that she would probably miscarry again? Did her marital status also play a role in the “decision”?
    This is such a sad story. My thoughts and prayers go out to Sarah and her family.

  2. WOAH! The thing that is most shocking here is that they wouldn’t even try to stop her labor!
    My water broke at just shy of 23 weeks. The doctors gave me the option to try to stop the labor, or go ahead with the delivery.
    Of course, I told them to stop the labor! They also gave me steriod shots to help speed the development of my son’s lungs.
    I remained pregnant for 7 WEEKS after my water broke. I can not believe that this poor woman was not even given that option! My son is alive and well because I was given medicine to delay his birth.
    If I were in England, he would be dead.

  3. This should be cause for outrage! This is totaly inexcusible! As a premature baby myself, I can’t see some doctor telling my mother, “I’m sory but our national guide lines say, we can’t deliver 25 week old babies.” If we don’t stand and apose, that day will come I asure you! This is Baby Shanice and Rowan all over again, only this time abortion wasn’t involved, yet still, Christian’s put their heads in the sand and do nothing! Brandy Lozier was correct, when she said that Chrisians were the reason why Row V wade hasn’t been overturned! I’m shure Jesus is smilling right about now? You Christians with your fancy ear rings, and your convertables? No, No, He’s saying, “If you have done to the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me also, and since Christians don’t care that a baby has died, they must not think to highly of Christ either!t

  4. Lauren,
    Your circumstances (marital status and insurance) were probably deemed acceptable here in the US.
    For mothers who are on state aid and are single, it’s a whole heck of alot different.
    I know this from experience. My baby was ALMOST alowed to die because I didn’t fit into the statistical “norm” of motherhood.
    Don’t think for a second that this cannot and does not happen in the US. If what happened to me can happen here, just think of what a nationalized system here in the US can drum up policy-wise. Every decision will be based on statistics, not on morals. It has already begun, it’s just not nationalized yet.

  5. I actually thought many US hospitals had similar guidlines, I’m reminded of this story–Amilla-allowed-home.html
    The mom (in Miami) had to lie about how far along she was in order to have them treat the baby.
    It’s sickening to hear that after all that she still says “I would never have an abortion, but I know it’s up to the individual choice”!
    But anyway, that’s not what I came to comment about…..I really don’t see any good in nationalized health care, but I did think that these guidlines (however wrong they are) were also fallowed here in the US.
    Please correct me if I’m wrong…..I would love to be wrong.

  6. Cruelty disguised as compassion, courtesy of a state that has rejected the immeasurable value of each human life.
    Basically: might makes right.
    The problem with a state holding that philosophy? Everyone will try their might.

  7. Sarah,
    I am so sorry. I can’t stop thinking about you and Jayden. You are in my thoughts and prayers and I know you will fight to change things in Jayden’s honor.

  8. And we are being asked why we don’t trust the gov’t to run healthcare and make life and death decisions for people?
    And BHO is basically asking “Dont you trust me and the Democratic party (“the party of death”) to takeover your healthcare?
    And the people who are not a part of their liberal, pro-death, radical agenda say:
    This baby may not have been able to survive but we will never know because they did not even try to stop her labor and give steriods to mature her lungs to even give her a chance.

  9. I somewhat disagree again that this is solely the result of national health care Jill.
    I think that this is a too simplistic view.
    Guidelines are set but they are not written in stone.
    Many physician groups and medical associations have guidelines for treatment in America. Many physicians in private-insurer healthcare operate also with some sort of guidelines maybe even worse than those in national care.
    Some follow no guidelines at all but base their practice upon what they feel should be the proper treatment.
    For example, I had a friend whose doctor told her she had to have an amniocentesis done on her twins because she was 35 years old. This was a must for having him as a doctor. All his pregnant patients over 35 must have an amnio.
    To me this terrible event seems to be a combination of things;
    nationalized health care standards; conflict with abortion rights and the distorted view of the very premature neonate as a nonpatient and evidence-based/bestpractices medicine which is being increasingly advocated at the way to go.
    Do not underestimate the impact of the latter. It is an unethical approach to medicine. If the best practice or the literature based evidence is to not treat a 21 week gestational patient then that is the way the doctors will proceed. There will be no attempt to save the child and no treatment no matter how much “evidence” is before the doctor’s eyes that this child might actually make it!
    And Lauren, my doctor also treated situations like you have described, similarily. In fact, I have a friend whose waters broke after an emergency appendectomy at 5 months! Our doctor put her to bed and she carried the baby for another 3 months.

  10. Every decision will be based on statistics, not on morals. It has already begun, it’s just not nationalized yet.
    Posted by: Marie at September 9, 2009 10:40 AM
    decisions will be made on “best practices” and cost-benefit analyses

  11. Lauren, this is really off-topic, but I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind elaborating or sharing your experience as a bone marrow donor? Specifically, is it really only something that people without jobs, or with flexible sick days, can sign on for? Like do they say, “It needs to be 8am on this day,” or can they work with you a little bit on times of day etc? I imagine it’s different everywhere but I was just curious about your experience.
    I have very erratic schedules — sometimes I work every day for weeks at a time, other times I have five days off a week — and I wouldn’t want to volunteer for something only to realize that I can’t be available when they need me (ie, several days over a short period of time, during “working hours”) if it should ever come during a “busy” time. I know that’s a really callous thing to worry about, but asking for more than one day off here and there in my current job would be really risky as far as getting hired again. I’ve only ever taken one day off in two years of working with this company, and that was like, shock-gasp-what-an-inconvenience.
    It is something I would love to do but I want to be responsible and realistic about it. I can’t donate blood but I would be eligible for this and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since you mentioned it a few months ago.
    You can e-mail me if you would prefer. (Or not, if you’d prefer not to respond in any capacity! No expectations here.) Bobby or Carla can give you my e-mail address if you want.

  12. I can respond here, Alexandra.
    Here’s what the Registry says about what sort of commitment you’re looking at:
    I haven’t been asked yet, but I do know that they ask you to reguarlly update them if your situation changes. If you become pregnant you are not eligible to donate until after you deliver your baby. Certain health issues also determine your eligibility. You also update any time you move or get a new phone number.
    I think it’s great that you are really looking into it and weighing exactly what the costs might be if you were called upon to donate.
    Basically, there are two types of donations. One is the typical bone marrow donation. This is where you’re sedated and they take out bone marrow from your pelvis. You would have to consider your recovery after such surgery.
    Then there is PBSC donation. This type of donation requires daily shots for 5 days to prepare your body for donation. I don’t know if you’ve ever donated plasma, but the method is similar to plasma donation. They take blood from one arm, take out the needed parts, and then return in through the other arm.
    I would think that they could work with you about exact times, but I know that the process happens very quickly once you’re matched with a recepient.
    Here’s another link that talks about understanding your commitment:
    They also have a hotline that you can call to talk to someone about the process and explain your situation. It’s 1-800-MARROW

  13. Great, thanks Lauren! I thought that you had donated already for some reason, but I didn’t know about the hotline so that’s a good place to go with these questions!

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