Some babies are born prematurely, 4 months before their due date. Those who survive the birth are known as miracle babies, but of this 9%, most tend to become disabled. Nowadays, with constantly improving medical advances, the survival rate of babies born at 24 weeks or later has approx. doubled.
Resuscitating babies at 23 weeks old: the right thing to do? Or scientists playing with fire…
Well, arguably, how can saving human lives not be the right thing to do? In a doctor’s shoes, would you happily stand around tapping your thumbs, while a mother was watching her newborn baby die, having never even held the child in her arms? Would you sit there eating your lunch with no remorse or guilt, knowing that you solely could have done something to make a critical and life altering difference for at least one family that day?
Indeed, it’s a controversial subject, taking wholly into account both the short-term and long-term effects. Although babies are being kept alive longer before they die, survival rates do not increase. So, in effect, the public’s money and the doctors’ time are both going to waste.
Furthermore, despite the fact that the UK is spending increasingly more on neonatal intensive care, once a premature child reaches the age of 18, he or she is no longer cared for. If the patient is disabled, then they’re left to work through their physical and/or mental drawbacks alone. Anne Aukett, a consultant paediatrician, said “If you are willing to support someone at the beginning of life you should be willing to support them to the end.”
At 22 weeks the baby would have been considered a miscarriage; at 24 weeks the baby would have had a very high chance of survival. So what is considered the right decision at 23 weeks?