Mum’s heartbreak as newborn baby ‘left to die’ by midwives in NHS hospital
Bethany Lamming from Hull gave birth to Jensen but, despite being able to breathe for himself and able to cry, midwives refused to help him because he was born at 21 weeks gestationShare
ByJoanna Lovell & Bradley JollyDigital journalist
- 09:06, 3 APR 2021
- Updated14:17, 4 APR 2021
A young mum was left heartbroken after her newborn baby was “left to die” without any medical help in hospital. Bethany Lamming gave birth to Jensen but, despite being able to breath for himself and able to cry, midwives refused to help him because he was born at 21 weeks gestation. Ms Lamming, 21, was told “I’m really sorry, we can’t do anything for your baby.”
As Hull Live reports, the mother watched her son die in her arms. Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said it adheres strictly to national guidance issued by the British Association of Perinatal Medicine which advises it is “not appropriate” to attempt to resuscitate babies born before 22 weeks. Survival for babies born before 22 weeks is not considered possible because the lungs are usually not developed, even though Jensen was breathing for himself and cried. The Trust has since completed a Serious Incident (SI) investigation which found failings by midwives, but concluded even without those failings, the outcome for baby Jensen would still have been the same. But Ms Lamming, from Hornsea, East Yorkshire, said: “He was crying and breathing. His eyes were still fused shut, but other than that he was a normal baby with five fingers on each hand, ten toes, he was perfect. He had eyelashes and eyebrows, proper facial features, he had black hair, and was responsive. He was really tall, length wise he was the size of a 24 week plus baby. The hardest thing was when he started to struggle for breathe, he did take his last breathes in my arms. I just didn’t understand how they could just not help him, every time I looked at him I didn’t understand, it felt like he wasn’t as important as other babies.”
Due to the only bereavement suite on the maternity ward at Hull Women and Children’s Hospital being in use when Ms Lamming gave birth in November 2020, her and partner Marcus Ford stayed on a labour ward where they could hear other babies crying as they said their final goodbyes to Jensen. The couples distress was prolonged when midwives failed to record Jensen as a “live” birth and neonatal death, and instead recorded him as a stillbirth, something which was later picked up by the coroner and almost delayed his funeral. This failure was highlighted in the SI investigation, as was the midwives’ failure to properly inform the couple of the expected outcome for Jensen when he was born. Ms Lamming added: “As soon as he was born the first thing the midwife said to me was ‘just remember, because he’s before 24 weeks, we can’t do anything’. When I gave birth and he cried straight away the second midwife said ‘I don’t know what to do’, and that now repeats in my head. It was not just traumatic for us, but for the midwives also I think. It wasn’t the staff, it was the system, you could tell that they wanted to do something but they didn’t.”
The investigation states: “The panel conclude that there was a missed opportunity for an open and honest conversation to have taken place between a clinician and Bethany and her partner.
“They should have been sensitively informed of the expected outcome (survival) for Jensen and a decision about palliative care which should have been made together.
“The panel concluded that staff failed to adequately acknowledge that Jensen was born showing signs of life and was therefore a neonatal death.”
Ms Lamming said the report, which was published this week, gives her no closure and still leaves her with many unanswered questions.
She added: “Their report says ‘yes we’ve not followed protocol but even if we had, the same thing would have happened, I feel like that’s disgusting, even though they made all these mistakes they still left a living, crying breathing baby to die.
“It shouldn’t be on gestational stage, if he showed life signs surely it should be on whether your child has capability to survive. He breathed and gave life, surely any child who breathes and shows life deserves a chance?
“I think I could accept a lot more if he had not breathed and cried, surely any baby showing signs of life deserves a chance, that’s all I think.
“It shouldn’t have been the hospital’s choice to decide whether he deserves that chance to live. It should have been ours.
“I have since been told that even if he did survive there was only a 2 per cent chance he wouldn’t be handicapped but that’s not their choice, I’d rather have given him the chance then him being treated like he wasn’t even a person.”
Ms Lamming says she would like to campaign for policies to be changed, and has now set up a petition to save the lives of babies born before 22 weeks. You can sign the petition here. She added: “In the cases of a child born before 22 weeks of pregnancy the child is offered no medical treatment or assistance and is passed to the parents for skin to skin contact and to pass naturally in their arms, in some cases this can be minutes in others it can be hours. Our son deserved a chance at life and so does any child born showing signs of life. Every child is entitled to life. It doesn’t matter whether he would be handicapped, that child was still loved, wanted and very much part of our family and anyone else in that situation would want medical help for their child too.”
A spokeswoman for Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust says: “The circumstances surrounding the loss of baby Jensen are incredibly sad and we would like to offer our sincere condolences to Ms Lamming and her family. The trust has completed a Serious Incident (SI) investigation and has recently met with Ms Lamming to share and explain the findings. The investigation found that while certain aspects of communication between staff and the family could have been more effective, they did not lead to any adverse clinical impact and sadly the outcome for baby Jensen would still have been the same. “In response to the report findings, we have committed to a number of actions to improve communication and minimise the likelihood of the issues seen in this case being repeated.”
The trust says the actions include a review of procedures in respect of extremely premature babies, more specific training for staff and the development of information resources for families of babies born earlier than 27 weeks’ gestation.
WARNING: UPSETTING CONTENT. Maureen Wood kept her horrific childhood abuse secret for three decades, before finally feeling able to police that she had been sexually assaulted by her mother, step-father and brother
By Ann Cusack & Zoe Forsey Features Editor
- 16:45, 17 MAR 2021
- Updated16:49, 17 MAR 2021
Maureen Wood was first raped by her older brother on her ninth birthday. A year later, their step-father walked in on the abuse she felt relieved as she believed he would protect her and the nightmare would end. But he did nothing, and a few months later began abusing her too. She now had two abusers to cope with. “I hoped against hope that my mum might step in and help me. But she walked into my bedroom and called me a ‘little wh*re'”, Maureen says.
Soon after her tenth birthday, Maureen’s mother became involved with the abuse. Maureen says: “They used to make me sleep in their bed, between them, and they took it in turns to abuse me. My mum helped to get me ready for when my step-dad would rape me. It felt like the end of the world. With them all against me, I had nowhere to turn.”
Maureen kept her horrific childhood abuse a secret for three decades before telling police the horrifying things she had been through as a child. She had given birth to a son as a result of a rape by her brother but he tragically suffered a cot death. And it was the exhumation of his body, more than two decades after his death, which brought justice for his mother from beyond the grave. Maureen’s childhood torment had remained secret for most of her life, until she bravely called in police. Her abusers were jailed and Maureen launched a legal action against the social services who were supposed to have protected her. The brave mum of five was later awarded £200,000 in an out of court settlement from Staffordshire County Council. She has now written a book, entitled: ‘A Family Secret’ which will be released this week. Mum of five Maureen, 50, says: “The minute I went to the police, all my fear was lifted. It wasn’t my shame and guilt to deal with any more. By going to court, I handed the fear and shame back to my family. My baby son, Christopher, was vital to the prosecution’s case. The police had warned me that they would be unlikely to get a viable DNA sample from his body – but when he was exhumed, his body was intact and the sample was perfect. It feels as though he was looking down on me from heaven, helping me. He is a true angel my guardian angel.”
In 2015 Maureen received a settlement from social services, following a lengthy legal case in which she claimed they had failed to protect her from her brother as a child. Maureen says: “It was a kick in the teeth, I felt like I had been let down twice; by my family and then by the social workers. I took my children on a month long holiday to Disney with the money. But it doesn’t change what happened to me. I brought the case, not for the money, but to ensure that they don’t let this happen to another child.”
At Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court in October 2011, her stepfather, John Wood, then 68, was convicted of seven counts of rape and sentenced to 16 years in prison. Her 46-year-old brother John Donnelly, received two years in jail after admitting rape, incest and indecent assault. In a re-trial, her mother, Maureen Wood (senior), then 65, was found guilty of four counts of aiding and abetting the rape of a girl under 16. She was jailed in October 2011 for nine years. She says: “The abuse by my mother was, and still is, the hardest thing to process. As a mother, you nurture and protect your child but she destroyed me.”
Maureen had been placed in care at the age of three, after her parents separated. Four years later, her mother, Maureen senior, took her and her older brother, John, back out of care and they were introduced to their new step-father John Wood. When Maureen was eight, the sexual abuse began. She says: “I remember every detail of that day. We had been outside, having a water fight, and as I dried off in the bathroom, my brother, John, who we called Jock, came in and started touching me. I didn’t understand what he was doing but I knew it felt wrong and it was horrible.”
On her ninth birthday, Maureen was raped for the first time. A year later, their step-father walked in as she was being raped. Maureen says: “I felt relieved – because I thought he would stop it. I thought he would look after me.”
Instead, her step-father said nothing. And weeks later, he began abusing Maureen too. he says: “I hoped against hope that my mum might step in and help me. But she walked into my bedroom and called me a ‘little wh**e.'”
Soon after her tenth birthday, Maureen’s mother became involved with the abuse.
Despite her horrific family life, Maureen enjoyed school and did well academically. She had friends but confided in nobody. She says: “My family threatened that if I told anyone, I’d end up in care again. I was terrified of that. They said nobody would believe me and that I’d get into trouble with the police. It was difficult because, to the outside world, my parents were respectable people. They worked at a local social club and they were managers at the Masonic hall too. They were well-known and well-liked. I tried running away and once stayed away for two days. But the police found me and took me home.”
When she was 13, Maureen fell pregnant. By the time she realised, it was too late for a termination. Maureen says: “My mother was mortified; all she worried about was what the neighbours would think of her, with a 13-year-old pregnant daughter. Yet of course she knew that either her own husband or her son was the father. But she just blanked that out. The abuse stopped while I was pregnant. For the first time in my life I could remember, I wasn’t being abused and it was like a little piece of heaven. I was ordered to tell people that I was raped by a stranger but I knew, for certain, that my baby’s father was my brother.”
In October 1984, Maureen gave birth to a son, Christopher. He was born on her brother’s 19th birthday. She says: “Christopher had blond hair, blue eyes. It didn’t matter why he came about, or where he came from. He was mine. That maternal instinct kicked in immediately. I adored him with all of my heart and for the first time in my life, I felt what love was.”
But just under a month later, he suffered a cot death. Maureen discovered his body. She says: “When he died, I felt like my life had ended, my world had finished. He was the only person I truly loved. It was raining the day we buried him. I felt like the heavens were crying with me. I just wanted to die.”
After Christopher’s death, Maureen’s mother and brother stopped abusing her. But her stepfather began assaulting her again only a couple of weeks afterwards. The abuse continued until, at 16, Maureen left home. She had suffered eight years of horrific abuse. She says: “My teens were very difficult. I was grieving for Christopher and I felt very angry and confused. I drank too much and I went off the rails a bit.”
But despite finally finding happiness, Maureen was haunted by nightmares of the abuse. She realised she had to seek justice and eventually she contacted police. Maureen says: “It was 29 years since the abuse began and so the CPS insisted that the only way they would take the case to court was if the Home Office would approve an exhumation of Christopher. His DNA would prove that my brother was his father, and that I had been telling the truth. I was warned that the DNA sample was unlikely to be viable. Yet when his body was exhumed it was almost intact. The sample was perfect and it proved I had been telling the truth. It was almost as if Christopher was watching over me, helping my court case. He was and still is my guardian angel.”
Christopher’s body was exhumed in July 2009 and reburied a month later. Maureen has no pictures of him but she has the small plaque from Christopher’s original coffin. She says: “I didn’t want my baby to be exhumed. But it was the only way. The night before, I went to his grave and came away with a sense of peace. I felt I had his support.”
Maureen’s step-father, brother and mother were all convicted of the abuse. Her mother died in prison and Maureen found it in her heart to attend the funeral. She says: “My mum and step-dad never apologised. But my brother pleaded guilty and told me he was sorry. I still grieve for the childhood I didn’t have and for the mother I didn’t have. I think of Christopher every day. Writing a book is my way of making sure that my voice and the voices of so many others who suffer is heard.”
Maureen’s book is available on Amazon.
Mystery of boy, 15, found dead upside down in snow with family desperate for answers
EXCLUSIVE: Alfie Lawton’s family have called for people who may have been with him when he died in South London to come forward, after the 15-year-old’s death on the coldest day of the year
By Milo Boyd
- 14:58, 25 FEB 2021
The family of a 15-year-old found dead upside down on a snowy hill believe witnesses might be able to help unlock the mystery of how he died. Alfie Lawton was discovered near railway lines in New Malden, South London just before 7pm on Monday, February 8. After a long search the teenager had been found by members of the public, lying with his head at the bottom of a steep bank, his family have said. He was unresponsive at the Green Lane Recreation Ground and – despite the best efforts of police, paramedics and members of the public – could not be revived. A post-mortem exam found no drugs or visible signs of injury on his body, although the Met says it is waiting for full toxicology results. Alfie had told his mum Sarah that he was going to meet friends several hours earlier the first time he’d gone out in months, because the great-grandma he’d been shielding was in hospital with Covid. From speaking to witnesses in the park, the family believe at least one of the people he’d met was with him when or just before he died. “We know who he was with when he died, we have established that with various witnesses,” Sacha, his cousin, told The Mirror.
She said she thought if Alfie’s friend had seen what happened and called for help Alfie would probably be at home and back to normal now. Alfie had religiously stuck to the lockdown rules since November in order to protect his great-grandma. When the 84-year-old fell ill with the disease and was hospitalised, his mum Sarah thought “you know what, nan has covid, you’ve been in the house watching me cry for a week, off you go and get some fresh air Alfie”.
At 3.30pm, two hours after he went out, Sarah started to get worried because Alfie wasn’t responding to her or his sister, which was out of character for the Southborough High School student. According to Sacha “all indications” are that he died around 5pm, when the family would usually be having tea. In the two weeks since the family have been able to rule out death by drugs and suicide thanks to information from the post-mortem. “He was upside down in the snow on a bank,” Sacha said.
“It was steeper than a staircase, you need to virtually crawl to get up it. We were working on the basis that he had somehow fallen down the bank. We have heard now there is no clear sign of death, so he hasn’t fallen out of a tree.”
Members of the public helping to search for Alfie came across him at around 6.45pm and the emergency services responded at 6.59pm. “It was the coldest day of the year,” Sacha said.
“When he was found a paramedic was overheard saying he was 22C. There was a massive effort to revive him. It was bitter. It was still snowing. The place in the park where he was found was secluded and tucked away.”
Alfie’s family have been completely rocked by the death of the teenager, who was “very ambitious and clever.” “He was just funny,” Sacha said.
“A really funny kid. He used to sing the Only Fools and Horses theme tune and he was always pulling pranks. A friend told us he dressed up in all the girl’s stuff when they went out shopping to make them laugh. He was the one that was going to turn the family into millionaires. When we got his phone back we found out he had a real estate folder on it. His eye was firmly on the future and it was going to be bright. Everybody liked Alfie. He was beautiful inside and out. Everyone we have come across loved him.”
The pain of Sarah, Alfie’s dad Josh, sister Jordan and brother Freddie and their large extended families has been intensified by the mystery of his death. Sacha said: “He has gone to the park one day and he hasn’t come back, and there are no visible signs of him being attacked. Alfie didn’t kill himself. We think something medical has happened. We just want answers.”
She said if any of Alfie’s friends knows anything she would encourage them to come forward with anything they know. There have not been any arrests in relation to this case. Detective Inspector Andy Griffin said: “Alfie’s family, and their community of neighbours and friends are struggling with the grief of losing such a wonderful and vibrant young man. Police are actively investigating the circumstances that led to Alfie’s tragic death, which currently remains unexplained. We need as much information as possible to assist our enquiries, and answer the questions the family has about what happened to Alfie on that day.”
The police said all efforts are being made to trace any witnesses, people with information or people who were in or near Green Lane Recreation Ground between 2pm and 7pm February 8. Anyone with information that could help with police enquiries is asked to call 101 or tweet @MetCC quoting ref CAD5562/08FEB21.
Family finally discovers truth of five-year-old boy’s death in NHS surgery blunder 43 YEARS after the tragedy
Family finally discovers truth of five-year-old boy’s death in NHS surgery blunder 43 YEARS after the tragedy
- Carl Marrows lost his life because of errors by NHS hospital staff, inquest hears
- He suffered ‘massive blood loss’ due to a known complication of the procedure
- An inquest in 1986 put the five year old boy’s death down to natural causes
- Driven by a sense of injustice, his family challenged the decision years later
Published: 23:19, 14 February 2021 | Updated: 23:19, 14 February 2021
A family has won a 43-year fight to discover the truth about a five-year-old boy’s needless death following a hospital operation. Carl Marrows was originally said to have died from natural causes but in reality he lost his life because of errors by hospital staff, an inquest heard. A coroner, who reinvestigated the boy’s death after a legal battle by his family, concluded Carl had been the victim of neglect and ‘gross failure of care’. The ruling at a new inquest in Hull last week was welcomed by the boy’s father who said there had been a cover-up by hospital staff. The youngster, who had spina bifida, died following an operation in 1978 at Scunthorpe General Hospital to correct his gait. He suffered ‘massive blood loss’ due to a known complication of the procedure. An inquest in 1986 put the death down to natural causes but, driven by a sense of injustice, his family challenged the decision years later. Carl’s father John approached coroner Professor Paul Marks who uncovered records of the case, agreed the verdict was ‘not sustainable’ and backed his bid to have the inquest finding overturned at the High Court. The youngster, who had spina bifida, died following an operation in 1978 at Scunthorpe General Hospital to correct his gait. The hospital is seen above in later years . They succeeded and a fresh inquest was ordered. It heard how precautionary measures should have been taken in case Carl suffered bleeding after surgery. Instead of having a tube fitted to allow for the emergency treatment, he was simply sent to a ward. When a nurse realised something was wrong, there was a delay before a doctor arrived and staff were unable to save his life. Professor Marks said had the proper procedures been carried out Carl would not have gone into cardiac arrest and died. He also noted some medical records were incomplete. The coroner recorded a narrative conclusion including that neglect had led to the child’s death. Describing the death as sad and tragic, he added: ‘If Carl had survived this operation he would have been 49 this July. His family have conducted themselves with the deepest integrity and dignity throughout these proceedings.’
Carl’s father John approached coroner Professor Paul Marks who uncovered records of the case, agreed the verdict was ‘not sustainable’ and backed his bid to have the inquest finding overturned at the High Court. After the hearing Mr Marrows, 74, a retired HGV driver from Howsham, Lincolnshire, described Carl as ‘a very bright little lad’. He said: ‘The whole thing has been a cover up. They just did not want the hospital or the NHS to look bad. I am glad the truth has finally come out but it grieves me that my poor lad could still have been with us now.’
He said his ex-wife Jennifer, who died several years ago, was ‘hit hard’ by the tragedy and they split up. Dr Peter Reading, of Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Trust, said: ‘We hope that this new inquest verdict brings the family some closure.’
My niece and nephew-in-law went through with the devastion of their second child, a daughter, having Trisomy 18. She lived for a day and looked perfect but it doesn’t take away the pain they live with.
“Is she in pain?” I asked quietly as the pearlescent baby-shaped image on the screen folded its legs and then extended them.
The radiologist doing my ultrasound had just finished pointing out a cluster of alarming abnormalities in our developing daughter, using a slew of medical terms my husband and I, both medical students, were grimly familiar with. Pleural effusion: fluid surrounding one of her lungs, preventing it from expanding and developing properly. Ascites: excess fluid inside the abdomen, surrounding her organs. Cystic hygroma: a large, fluid-filled mass on her neck, strongly associated with chromosomal abnormalities. Something was very wrong with our baby.
A few hours later, I lay on a hospital exam table. Arms folded over my head, I tried to stay still as a specialist in maternal/fetal medicine used a large needle to pierce my abdominal wall and then my uterus in order to take a sample of the placenta for genetic testing. After an agonizing two weeks, the results came back: our daughter had trisomy 18. My husband and I immediately understood the gravity of this diagnosis it is one of those rare conditions we expected to encounter on a medical board exam, not in real life.
Trisomy 18 is rare, occurring in about 1 in 2,500 pregnancies. The cells of these babies have three copies of chromosome 18 instead of the usual two. There is no cure. Most babies with trisomy 18 die before they are born. The majority of those who make it to term die within five to 15 days, usually due to severe heart and lung defects. The few who live past one year have serious health problems, such as a toddler lacking abdominal wall muscles, revealing the slithering movement of intestines beneath his skin, or a 1-year-old who cannot not defecate on her own, requiring anal sphincter dilation multiple times each day.
In rare cases, babies with trisomy 18 are mosaic, meaning only some cells possess the harmful extra chromosome, which makes the disease less severe. Our daughter was not mosaic.
As parents, we felt it was our duty to protect our daughter from the inevitable suffering she would meet if she were to make it to term. And so, at 15 weeks of gestation, we made the painful decision to end our very wanted pregnancy.
As the date approached, I wore bulky clothing in an effort to hide my protruding belly I was terrified someone would congratulate me on my pregnancy. Each day, I hoped that our daughter had not developed sufficient neural connections to begin sensing that her organs were failing. Using our home Doppler monitor, a Christmas gift from my sister, we listened to her heartbeat. Two days later, I tried to hear her heartbeat again, but it was no longer there. She had already died.
When I woke up from the dilation and evacuation procedure, during which her remains were removed from my body, I cried. I had never felt such profound emptiness.
My husband and I were given a small box sealed with a bow. It contained a tiny baby’s hat and a thick piece of paper marked with purple footprints the size of my thumbnail. Her footprints.
We had her remains cremated and placed her ashes in a tiny white urn small enough to fit in the palm of my hand. It felt good to have her home, even if it wasn’t in the way we had expected.
For such a heartbreaking event, we had the best-case scenario. My husband and I are medically literate. Our medical costs were fully covered by my insurance. I received care at one of the best hospitals in the country. We received superior counseling from multiple physicians and a genetics counselor, who helped inform us and support us without dictating or judging our decision. The day of my surgery, I was treated like any other surgical patient.
Other families aren’t as lucky as mine. A few months after my loss, my friend Jamie ended her pregnancy due to trisomy 18. I was horrified and saddened by her description of her experience.
As a Missouri resident, Jamie’s insurance did not cover pregnancy termination in the case of severe fetal impairment. Because their local hospital was charging them $8,000 for the procedure, Jamie and her husband, cash-poor from a recent home purchase, opted to drive to an abortion clinic. Protesters shouted at them as they entered the clinic: “Why would you want to hurt daddy’s little girl? That’s daddy’s little girl you’re killing!”
Once inside the facility, Jamie had an ultrasound to confirm the cost of the procedure, which would be based on the baby’s gestational age. She and her husband were informed that the procedure would cost an extra $100 boosting the cost to $800 because the center’s clinicians disagreed with the gestational age that Jamie and her husband had reported. The clinic asserted that the baby was a bit older, making the procedure more costly. Jamie and her husband found themselves in the twisted position of having to haggle the cost of their own nightmare.
Eventually, Jamie underwent the procedure. Feet in stirrups, she received a “comfort shot” an extra $60 which I later learned meant an injection of fentanyl, a powerful narcotic. She was vaguely awake throughout the procedure and has spent the months since actively suppressing the dim, distressing memories of the termination.
After it was over, Jamie and her husband were not able to obtain the remains of their baby, nor were the remains sent for genetic analysis to determine whether their child’s form of trisomy 18 was heritable or not, as my husband and I had learned from genetic analysis. The center did not send a pathology report to Jamie’s obstetrician until many weeks later, and only after she phoned the center multiple times.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, 26 states prohibit abortion coverage in Affordable Care Act marketplace plans, and 11 states extend these restrictions to private insurance companies, effectively eviscerating Roe v. Wade. Only one of these states (Utah) makes an exception in the case of severe fetal impairment. In these states, only the wealthiest have access to pregnancy termination.