Premature baby 'left to die' by doctors after mother gives birth just two days before 22-week care limit

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

Sarah Capewell begged them to save her tiny son, who was born just 21 weeks and five days into her pregnancy - almost four 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.


Sarah Capewell, mother of Jayden Capewell

Battle: Sarah Capewell is fighting to have guidelines about caring for very premature babies changed

Miss Capewell, 23, said doctors refused to even see her son Jayden, who lived for almost two hours without any medical support.

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.

Sarah Capewell and her daughter Jodi

Heartbreak: Sarah Capewell with her daughter Jodi, five

Sarah Capewell
Jayden Capewell

Sarah Capewell is fighting for new guidelines on when infants should be given intensive care after her premature son Jayden (right) was refused treatment

Medics allegedly told her that they would have tried to save the baby if he had been born two days later, at 22 weeks.

In fact, the medical guidelines for Health Service hospitals state that babies should not be given intensive care if they are born at less than 23 weeks.

The guidance, drawn up by the Nuffield Council, 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'.

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 five miscarriages, said the guidelines had robbed her son of a chance of life.

James Paget Hospital

Short life: Miss Capewell's son Jayden died two hours after he was born at James Paget Hospital in Gorleston, Norfolk, in October 2008

She said: 'When he was born, he put out his arms and legs and pushed himself over.

A midwife said he was breathing and had a strong heartbeat, and described him as a "little fighter".

I kept asking for the doctors but the midwife said, "They won't come and help, sweetie. Make the best of the time you have with him".'

She cuddled her child and took precious photos of him, but he died in her arms less than two hours after his birth.

Miss Capewell, who has a five-year-old daughter Jodie, went into labour in October last year at 21 weeks and four days after suffering problems during her pregnancy.

She said she 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.

Instead, doctors told her to treat the labour as a miscarriage, not a birth, and to expect her baby to be born with serious deformities or even to be still-born.

Jayden Capewell
Jayden Capewell

Treasured memories: Pictures of baby Jason's feet and hands

She told how she begged one paediatrician, 'You have got to help', only for the man to respond: 'No we don't.'

As her contractions continued, a chaplain arrived at her bedside to discuss bereavement and planning a funeral, she claims.

She said: 'I was sitting there, reading this leaflet about planning a funeral and thinking, this is my baby, he isn't even born yet, let alone dead.'

After his death she even had to argue with hospital officials for her right to receive birth and death certificates, which meant she could give her son a proper funeral.

Justice for Jayden: His mother is campaigning to change the law

Justice for Jayden: His mother is campaigning to change the law

She was shocked to discover that another child, born in the U.S. at 21 weeks and six days into her mother's pregnancy, had survived.

Amillia Taylor was born in Florida in 2006 and celebrated her second birthday last October. She is the youngest premature baby to survive.

Miss Capewell said: 'I could not believe that one little girl, Amillia Taylor, is perfectly healthy after being born in Florida in 2006 at 21 weeks and six days.

'Thousands of women have experienced this. The doctors say the babies won't survive but how do they know if they are not giving them a chance?'

Miss Capewell has won the support of Labour MP Tony Wright, who has backed her call for a review of the medical guidelines. He said: 'When a woman wants to give the best chance to her baby, they should surely be afforded that opportunity.'

What the medical guidelines say...

Guidance limiting care of the most premature babies provoked outrage when it was published three years ago.

Experts on medical ethics advised doctors not to resuscitate babies born before 23 weeks in the womb, stating that it was not in the child's 'best interests'.

The guidelines said: 'If gestational age is certain and less than 23+0 (i.e at 22 weeks) it would be considered in the best interests of the baby, and standard practice, for resuscitation not to be carried out.'

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 were endorsed by the British Association of Perinatal Medicine and are followed by NHS hospitals.

The association said they were not meant to be a 'set of instructions', but doctors regard them as the best available advice on the treatment of premature babies.

More than 80,000 babies are born prematurely in Britain every year, and of those some 40,000 need to be treated in intensive care.

The NHS spends an estimated £1 billion a year on their care.

But while survival rates for those born after 24 weeks in the womb have risen significantly, the rates for those born earlier have barely changed, despite advances in medicine and technology.

Medical experts say babies born before 23 weeks are simply too under-developed to survive, and that to use aggressive treatment methods would only prolong their suffering, or inflict pain.

The guidelines were drawn up by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics after a two-year inquiry which took evidence from doctors, nurses and religious leaders.

But weeks before they were published in 2006, a child was born in the U.S. which proved a baby could survive at earlier than 22 weeks if it was given medical treatment.

Amillia Taylor was born in Florida on October 24, 2006, after just 21 weeks and six days in the womb. She celebrated her second birthday last year.

Doctors believed she was a week older and so gave her intensive care, but later admitted she would not have received treatment if they had known her true age.

Her birth also coincided with the debate in Britain over whether the abortion limit should be reduced.

Some argued that if a baby could survive at 22 weeks then the time limit on abortions should be reduced.

The argument, which was lost in Parliament, followed a cut to the time limit in 1990 when politicians reduced it from 28 weeks to 24 weeks, in line with scientific evidence that foetuses could survive outside the womb at a younger age.

However, experts say cases like Amillia Taylor's are rare, and can raise false expectations about survival rates.

Studies show that only 1 per cent of babies born before 23 weeks survive, and many suffer serious disabilities.

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Comment by Larry Johnson on September 13, 2009 at 4:18pm
My son was born seven weeks early and spent eight days in hospital, my wife and me were with him every day and evening feeding and nurturing him and praying. the Doctors said he would be retarded and not have a good life. The Doctors no nothing about the power of PRAYER and God. 38 years later he is a qualified auto mechanic with three children making a good living and believes in God.
Comment by Janet Jubilee on September 10, 2009 at 12:03am
GOD wants the babies saved. "Before you were in the womb, I knew you" Jeremiah 10
Comment by mick the ascended master on September 9, 2009 at 6:18pm
Doctors sign a document to help the sick and dying .in France there is a lore that if you see a accident or sum one injured you stop and help them. IM in the U.K. and if you’re lying on the floor in agony people just walk on past. Like I keep saying its time for the people to take the planet earth back from these mad dictators that are in control round them up a drop them down a volcano. They rote a book fifteen hundred years ago telling us what they where going to do to us and they called it the bible and billions of people read it and they think god is coming to save them. Well its time we all got together and do it ourselves
Comment by Jason Mallet on September 9, 2009 at 5:30pm
My first son was born just 6 weeks premy but he was born in the most amazing hospital it was the Monash Medical Centre on Clayton rd Clayton Victoria in there Pedeatric ICU there are photos on the wall there of a child surviving after being born at 22 weeks
Comment by peter b dunn on September 9, 2009 at 4:51pm
Eugenicists Shame shame shame
Comment by BlessedONE333 on September 9, 2009 at 4:26pm
okay well there are some reasons why under 22 weeks the baby can often not survive even after extraordinary measures are taken. I know it's very cruel sounding - but the facts are that most babies die anyway but then the parents are left with huge bills and if they can't pay then the hospital or state is left with bill. I'm not saying that this is a good way to go I am saying that stats show this is the case.

There are some details being missed here with the emotion of a babies death. First the mother had so many miscarriages that something needs to be addressed on that front alone. WHAT IS HER MEDICAL ISSUE that made the babies die? That would have been a better way to stop this death by working to keep the baby in utero to begin with. Second - WHY DIDN'T THIS MOTHER PRAY AND CRY OUT TO GOD AND TRUST IN THE LORDS PLAN? I didn't hear one word about Jesus as the savior of this baby. It grieves me to see all this suffering without an understanding of how things work here on the earth. Thirdly - where is the father? Not one mention of a dad here in the picture or the text. Where is he?

I have given birth to 6 children in my life - all of them were to full term and were healthy. They are all now over 5' 10" - 6ft tall and trying their best to make it in a sinful world. But they have always had something on their side - A PRAYING PARENT.

I don't think any of us want a dead baby for anyone because the sadness can be overwhelming. But if you take the emotion out of the equation and look at this with more logic and facts, then you will see that depending on modern medicine will fail you every time. Our faith needs to be in God and we need to trust in Him and be following the word of God.

I pray this woman heal and find comfort in our Lord Jesus/Yeshua the messiah.
Comment by Steve Schulin on September 9, 2009 at 1:15pm
If you agree with the principle expressed in the Declaration of Independence, that we're all endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights, including right to life, I hope you'll check out a new party started last year (and already the third largest national party as measured by number of registered voters) -- America's Independent Party
Comment by Holli Nass on September 9, 2009 at 1:09pm
Read Palin's op-ed in the wsj she will defend the rights of the unborn. This was so out of hand I cannot believe this happens in our country. They also leave babies that have been aborted to die on cold stainless tables. They have no souls
Comment by TheLasersShadow on September 9, 2009 at 12:08pm
If people only knew what obama wants to do to those age babys while they are still in the womb!!!!!!!! (spikes and vacuums!)

"Destroying the New World Order"


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