Baby born two days too soon is left to die

A young mother watched her baby son die in her arms after doctors refused to help because he was born two days too soon and therefore ‘just a foetus’.

Sarah Capewell gave birth to Jayden after 21 weeks and five days of pregnancy.

But doctors refused her desperate pleas to place him in intensive care because medical guidelines state that under 22 weeks a baby is a foetus and does not qualify for intensive care treatment.

Doctors refused to even see Jayden, who lived without support for almost two hours before passing away.

Miss Capewell had complications with Jayden’s pregnancy and did not understand why midwives told her “We just have to get you to 22 weeks”.

Because the pregnancy had not yet reached 22 weeks Miss Capewell was not given drugs to delay the labour or help mature her baby’s lungs.

In October 2008 she went into labour at 21 weeks and four days. Doctors at James Paget Hospital in Gorleston, Norfolk, told her she should consider the labour as a miscarriage rather than a birth.

When Miss Capewell pleaded with a paediatrician “You have got to help”, he replied “No we don’t”.

Begging doctors to consider her son’s human right to life, Miss Capewell says she was told: “He hasn’t got a human right, he is a foetus.”

Miss Capewell’s contractions were continuing when a hospital chaplain arrived to discuss funeral arrangements.

When Jayden was born his mother’s pleas for him to be admitted to the special care baby unit were rejected.

When she asked to speak to doctors the midwife said: “They won’t come and help, sweetie. Make the best of the time you have with him.”

Miss Capewell has now launched a campaign to change the national guidelines for NHS hospitals which state that babies born before 22 weeks have such a low chance of survival that no attempt should be made to save them.

Her Downing Street petition has so far attracted more than 12,000 signatures.

  • Sign the petition
  • After Jayden’s death, Miss Capewell looked into other cases.

    She 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?”

    Her campaign is backed by local MP Tony Wright who said: “When a woman wants to give the best chance to her baby, they should surely be afforded that opportunity.”

    The James Paget Hospital said it would not comment on individual cases and that it followed national guidance.

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