Couple's grief after premature baby left to die

Parents of a premature baby who was left to die in hospital are questioning why doctors decided she was too young to treat.Robert and Latisha Brown have struggled to understand why doctors at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital decided not to treat their daughter Alexis, who was born 23 weeks into pregnancy.

Parents of a premature baby who was left to die in hospital are questioning why doctors decided she was too young to treat.

Robert and Latisha Brown have struggled to understand why doctors at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital decided not to treat their daughter Alexis, who was born 23 weeks into pregnancy.

The little tot, who weighed 1lb 1oz and measured 28cms, was breathing, kicking her legs and waving her arms when she arrived at the hospital on June 26 this year.

But instead of being placed in an incubator, she was laid in a wicker moses basket by a midwife and her parents were told the heartbreaking news that there was nothing medics could do. Alexis survived for two hours before passing away.


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The hospital said it followed national guidelines set by the British Association of Perinatal Medicine (BAPM) published in 2008, which outline that babies born less than 24 weeks into a pregnancy should not be resuscitated.

It added that although staff had the guidelines in mind, doctors undertook the decision to withhold treatment following a clinical assessment of Alexis, although her family reject this took place.

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With the hospital having one of the only neonatal intensive care units in the region and with Alexis being within days of the advised resuscitation point, Mr and Mrs Brown, from Attleborough, want an explanation as to why no attempt was made to try to save her life.

They said one of the worst parts of losing their child was that they would never know whether the doctors' help could have made the difference.

They want the rulebook thrown out and more focus placed on assessing premature babies on a case-by-case basis.

Mrs Brown, 23, said: 'There was no help like you would expect. The thing that hurts the most is that she was breathing, she was kicking.

'Even if she had lived for two hours in an incubator, we would have at least known they had tried.'

She added: 'I do not want to think of any other couples having to go through this.

'If we get from this story one child saved, it will be worth it. Nothing is going to bring Alexis back. There are no words that can help.'

Alexis's parents had lauded her as a miracle as doctors had ruled out Mrs Brown being able to conceive naturally due to gruelling radiotherapy treatment for leukaemia as a child. However, after three failed IVF treatments, the couple were delighted when Mrs Brown discovered she was pregnant.

The pregnancy ran smoothly until the day of the unexpected birth at the couple's home. On arrival at the

N&N they were met by a midwife who cut the cord and placed Alexis in a moses basket, telling the infant she would come back to her shortly.

'I was hysterical, asking her to do something for Alexis, to take her into an incubator, but she came to the side of the bed, kneeled down and said there was nothing they could do: she was too young. We were both hysterical,' said Mrs Brown. 'I said, 'We have waited five years for her; there must be something we can do.''

Alexis Lynne Henrietta Brown died at 7.30pm. Her funeral will take place at St Mary's Church, in Attleborough, later this month.

A spokesman for the N&N said medical staff were aware of the BAPM guidelines, but made the decision not to treat Alexis on the basis of a clinical assessment.

He said: 'Mr and Mrs Brown have our deepest sympathies. Losing a child is devastating for anyone and we always try to support parents as best we can through any loss.

'Sadly Alexis was born very prematurely at home and there was no question of survival for such a premature baby.

'Our midwives and doctors look at each case individually, but it remains the case that for babies of less than 24 weeks the chances of survival are extremely remote.

'We appreciate how hard it can be for parents to come to terms with this loss and we will continue to offer our support to Mr and Mrs Brown.'

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