Guest Column

Doctors offered abortion at 22 weeks for baby they said wouldn’t survive. They were wrong.

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(Right to Life UK) A Welsh mum was told her daughter would not survive birth and was offered an abortion at 22 weeks, but she refused and her daughter is now 18 months old.

Kim and her husband, Richard, were expecting their fourth child when, at the 12-week scan, they found that their baby had a problem with her heart. They were referred to Liverpool Women’s Hospital for further tests and found their daughter, Esmay, has an irregular heartbeat.

By 20 weeks, her heart had stopped growing and Kim was offered an abortion at 22 weeks.

Kim, 38, said “At 22 weeks I was offered an abortion because one side of her heart had stopped growing but I refused as I believe every child deserves a chance”.

“When Esmay was born she had a blood test which discovered that she had a rare chromosome disorder in which the top end of chromosome six had been deleted. As a result of the chromosome deletion comes another condition called Axenfeld-Rieger syndrome which causes the back of her eyes to stop forming and will eventually make her blind”.

“If we had waited another day she would have died”

Kim ended up having a Caesarean section even though she would have preferred not to have it.

“When [Esmay] was born they whipped her straight off. She was quite poorly. She was sent straight over to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital because of the severity of her heart. She was 11 days old when she had open heart surgery. It was absolutely horrific – she was only supposed to be down for seven hours but it was 10 and a half hours. When we saw the surgeon he said she was one lucky little girl. If we had waited another day she would have died, he said”.

Esmay’s problems were not over though as she had numerous additional medical problems. As well as being diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, she “also has a diagnosis of focal epilepsy, global developmental delay, scoliosis of the spine, and we’ve just found out that Esmay has an issue with her blood in which her body doesn’t produce enough insulin”, her mum said.

“When she’s poorly, even with an average cold, it puts her in hospital because her blood sugar levels drop to a really low level so she requires insulin shots”.

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“She lights up the room and makes everyone laugh”

Esmay requires round-the-clock care and the family is not sure how long they will have with her.

“We don’t take anything for granted anymore since having Esmay. She is beautiful – she has a beautiful personality and a great big smile. She lights up the room and makes everyone laugh”, Kim said.

Kim and Richard don’t regret their decision for a second though and are especially thankful for help from Family Fund.

“[Family Fund have] been an absolute godsend for us. The grants have been brilliant for our family and we don’t know how long we have with Esmay so we appreciate that we’ve been able to make some memories with her”.

Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said “Esmay’s life is precious, whether it lasts another 2 months or 10 years or longer. Her parents recognised this even despite her disability and the doctor’s encouragement to end their daughter’s life by abortion”.

Editor’s Note: This article was published at Right to Life UK and is reprinted here with permission.

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