UK inquest finds premature baby died after hospital failed to provide proper care

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A premature baby born at 23 weeks gestation in the United Kingdom was left to die, according to an inquest, despite new guidelines declaring that preemies born at 22 weeks should be given medical care.

Emanuel Anton was born on March 3rd, 2023 at Burnley General Hospital in the UK. His mother, Geanina Anton, had successfully carried three babies before, so when she went to the bathroom one morning and felt severe pain, she knew something was wrong. Her husband took her to Royal Blackburn Hospital, and she was then transferred to Burnley via ambulance. Less than 15 minutes after arriving, Emanuel was born.

“I was in a state of shock, losing a lot of blood from the ordeal of the events and in great pain,” Anton said. “I can’t remember much, only that I felt like I needed to push. I held him on my chest for a few moments until I was taken away. Afterwards, my husband and I were put into a room and were told he had gone.”

Just a few weeks prior, an ultrasound Anton had received noted the wrong gestational age of her baby boy — meaning Anton was actually 23 weeks gestation at birth, and not 22 weeks as believed. This was a potentially fatal error, as updated NHS guidelines recommended that babies born after 22 weeks receive “survival focused” care. Instead, Emanuel was simply left to die.

READ: Former ‘Top Model’ Leah Darrow was told her preemie wouldn’t survive. 29 days later he’s still fighting.

Dr. Naomi Todd tried to justify this by pointing to Anton’s medical needs, pointing out she had severe blood loss and needed an emergency operation. “I could see the mother was very distressed and in pain, and I explained that she could be in labour,” she said. “I told her I needed to perform an examination, but Emanuel’s head had already begun to show which meant I was unable to. It all happened in a very short time.”

Todd may have needed to work on saving Anton’s life — but while she was doing that, neonatologists could have tended to Emanuel. Yet the inquest showed neonatologists were not even called.

“It would be too easy to say that Emanuel died of natural causes, but I think it is more complicated than that,” Richard Taylor, the coroner, said. “I record that Emanuel died from extreme prematurity, but also that his anticipated birth date had not been recorded accurately, and doctors did not have enough information on whether he should have been resuscitated or not.”

With advancements in medicine, premature babies are surviving at younger and younger ages, including in the UK. After the updated NHS guidelines suggesting survival-focused care be provided, the number of babies who survive being born at 22 weeks has tripled. Emanuel deserved to have been given the chance, instead of merely being left alone to die.

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