GORLESTON, UK, September 9, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A young British mother has criticized medical guidelines that, she said, resulted in doctors refusing treatment and leaving her newborn premature son to die. 23 year-old Sarah Capewell told media that her son Jayden, born at 21 weeks and five days gestation, was refused intensive care because he was two days under the limit set by Nuffield Council on Bioethics, a UK bioethics think tank that creates guidelines for medical practice.
Capewell said that her son Jayden cried and lived for two hours before dying in her arms. During that time, his mother took photos of him and pleaded with doctors that he be admitted to the special baby unit at James Paget University Hospital (JPH). Staff at the hospital, in Gorleston, Norfolk, told her that had Jayden been born two days later they would have helped him.
Since her son’s death, Capewell has launched an internet campaign to change the guidelines and says that she has received messages of support from around the world.
Guidelines set down by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics in 2006 say that intensive care should never be given to babies below 22 weeks gestation, and rarely to those below 23 weeks. In secular bioethics, this is called Futile Care Theory, which holds that in cases where there is no hope for improvement of an incapacitating condition, such as extreme prematurity, no treatment should be offered.
A spokesman for the Nuffield Council told LifeSiteNews.com that “resources are not covered in the guidelines”. The guidelines, said Catherine Joynson, communications manager of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, “state that doctors caring for premature babies should not be driven by the resource implications of their decisions. those decisions should be determined by clinical judgements of priority.” Nevertheless, while preterm babies often suffer long-term health effects, some born before 22 weeks survived in the US and Canada with intensive perinatal care. In 1987, James Elgin Gill was born at 21 weeks and 5 days gestation and survived. In 2007, Amillia Sonja Taylor, born in October in Miami, Florida, at less than 21 weeks and six days gestation and under 10 ounces, survived to go home with her parents in March that year.
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