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.