Mum of 22-week baby left to die calls for guidance change

Over 2,500 people have urged the Welsh Government to change medical guidelines, after a baby born less than two weeks before the legal abortion limit was left to die in hospital.

Emma Jones’ son Riley was breathing independently for 93 minutes, but staff at Cardiff’s University Hospital of Wales refused to treat him because he was born at just 22 weeks and three days into the pregnancy.

Now the Welsh Assembly’s Petitions Committee has considered Emma’s 2,759-signature call for guidance to ensure that babies born after 22 weeks and who show signs of life are given appropriate medical care.

Informed decision

The petition also asks for paediatricians to “review and weigh every baby born after 22 weeks who shows signs of life” immediately after birth, in order for an informed decision to be made about the baby’s chance of survival.

In a letter to the Committee, Emma said: “I am asking for a living human being to have appropriate care and as much fight as possible to be kept alive.”

“We can be saving so many more, babies are dying for no reason. Please look at what the people want, the parents and families who have to deal with losses that would have been prevented”, she added.

Doctors’ discretion

Currently if a baby is born up to 24 weeks into pregnancy, it is up to the doctors’ discretion whether the child is treated or not.

A spokesman for the Welsh Government said that health boards follow guidance from the Royal College of Paediatrics and the British Association of Perinatal Medicine.

“The decision to attempt resuscitation should be made by the clinical team in partnership with the parents, informed by the overall clinical situation and not just the gestational age of the baby”, he said.

Disability-free survival

“But the guidance does reflect the sad reality that babies born under 23 weeks have very low chances of disability-free survival and this knowledge is a key part of the clinical decision-making.”

The Committee has agreed to ask the Minister for Health whether medical assistance should be given to babies born alive and breathing, and requested research on how the issues are dealt with in Wales compared to the rest of the UK.

Recently, a senior children’s doctor in England said babies born at 23 weeks are now more likely to live than die.


Dr Martin Ward Platt, a consultant neonatologist, revealed that at his hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne around 60 per cent of babies born at 23 weeks over the past six years have survived.

He also said he had known of two babies that were born at 22 weeks and survived.

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