>> Wednesday, September 09, 2009
This is garbage:
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.
I love the "two days too early"; in point of fact, the baby was born 18 weeks too early. The record for premature baby survival is 21 weeks, 6 days. I appreciate that the experience must have been devastating for the parents, especially as the boy was born alive (he died two hours later), but really, this isn't a close call. The thrust of the article is clear; to demonstrate that the NHS is a failure because it kills babies that could have survived in a private system (there's also an anti-abortion angle later in the piece). The comment thread, predictable, is filled with Americans denouncing the callousness of socialized health care, although of course no treatment would have been given in a similar case in the United States (the 21 week 6 day survival was treated in error, and the 22 week survival rate hovers at about 1%).
Last, but of course not least, the guidelines that suggest a 21 week old fetus shouldn't be treated are just that; guidelines. It is within the discretion of the medical professionals in question to treat the baby or no. The guidelines don't say "Don't treat because it will bankrupt the UK;" rather, they indicate the extremely low survival probability, and the extremely high likelihood that the baby will suffer serious problems in the rest of its very short life. To the extent that compassion should be a consideration, it all points in one direction.