A UK woman advised to abort her child for a chromosomal abnormality was told he wouldn’t be born alive. But he was, and he survived in her arms for 10 hours after he was aborted at 18 weeks — an experience she said was “like torture” for her.
When Loran Denison, a stay-at-home mom of three from Lancashire, England, was told her fourth child had tested positive for Edward’s Syndrome at 15 weeks, she was devastated. Like a startling number of other women in similar situations, they advised her to abort her baby. The procedure, she was told, would be simple: first she would take a pill to stop her baby’s heart, and then shortly after she would return to the hospital to deliver the body of her dead baby.
Edwards syndrome, or trisomy 18, is a rare chromosomal disorder in which a baby has a third copy of the 18th chromosome instead of two. Down syndrome is a more commonly-known chromosomal disorder with a third copy of the 21st chromosome. But babies with trisomy 18 do not have the life expectancy of those with Down syndrome. Approximately 5-10% of children with Edwards syndrome live past their first year. Health issues associated with the condition are heart defects, problems with organs, clenched fists, and intellectual disabilities. Though commonly described as a condition “incompatible with life,” Live Action News has reported on several children with Edwards syndrome who have lived well beyond their toddler years.
Denison listened to her doctors’ misguided advice and took the pill that was supposed to stop her son’s heart. Two days later, she went to the hospital for the delivery. “When I took the first tablet on the sixth they said it would stop the pregnancy, heartbeat and everything, so we expected he wouldn’t be alive when he was born,” Denison said, according to The Sun. “They didn’t check for a heartbeat before inducing labour, and I wish they had.”
That’s because after she delivered her son, Kiyo Bleu, her partner noticed the baby was still alive. “When my partner picked him up after he was born he said ‘his heart is beating’, and they said ‘no way’.”
The full weight of what had happened hit Loran, and holding her newborn, 18-week-old son until he died was an experience she described as “like torture.”
“They told me he had typical Edwards Syndrome so would pass away before or just after birth,” she said. “My boy had a lion heart. I thought I had done the hard bit when I made the difficult decision to have an abortion, but now it feels ten times worse. I just want other mums to know in case this happens to them. I had to watch his heartbeat getting slower and watch his life draining out of him. You just want to keep your children alive. It was like torture.”
Loran told the Sun, “They said his heart will stop in the next half hour, and I kept ringing the bell to say he was still alive, and I said ‘do you just leave him’ and they said ‘yes.’”
Loran posted pictures of Kiyo’s tiny hand, with skin so delicate it was transparent. His parents had him christened, and his mother held him until he passed away, 10 hours after his birth. The Sun reports, “After he died little Kiyo Bleu went home to be with Loran, Scott, who works as a labourer, and their other three children for four days.”
Her words are haunting and full of remorse: “It was awful,” she said. “I can’t get my head around how he survived. I don’t even have a word for how horrible it feels. There is a person I’ve read about who has survived with Edwards’ syndrome to 40. Kiyo Bleu was so strong now I wonder if he would have survived. His heartbeat was so strong you could feel it. If I had known he would be born alive I probably would have made a different decision.”
Prenatal testing has long been associated with a number of false results and even human or calculation errors have led to incorrect diagnoses. At the end of last year, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG) put out new guidelines in response to increasing reports of parents who felt pressured into abortion after prenatal screening tests. In the UK, 90% of preborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted.
Doctors never gave baby Kiyo a chance, and now Loran feels the sting of regret. “I thought I was doing the right thing but now I think I have done the wrong thing. He just looked so normal.”
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