NRL News

Little preemie “deserved a chance,” British mom laments

by | Dec 15, 2017

Hospital says “nothing could be done,” but other hospitals would have intervened to help

By Dave Andrusko

Sophie Dennis and her husband feel their premature daughter was robbed of a chance to live. They were told by doctors at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle that because Autumn Orion Dennis was born so early, there was nothing they could do to try to save her.

Doctors determined Mrs. Dennis was 22 weeks and two days pregnant when Autumn was born October 16 weighing just 410 grams.

“Although they asked what could be done for Autumn they had to accept their daughter was going to die and they spent two precious hours with her after she was delivered,” according to Emily Roberts of the Sun newspaper. “I was in shock,” said Mrs. Dennis. “I didn’t feel we had that option to fight for her.”

However the Dennis family subsequently learned that other hospitals will attempt to resuscitate preemies born at 23 weeks. And Mrs. Dennis herself had calculated she was 22 weeks and six days pregnant when Autumn was born.

She told Roberts, “It’s beyond words as a parent to find out we did have the right to ask for a neonatal team standing by, we did have the right to ask them to intervene.”


“I now know we could have had a team on standby if I had begged a doctor to do something”

“I’m always going to live with the ‘what if’.

“What if I had pushed for it, would she still be here? Would she be in an incubator thriving?

“I don’t know if she would have survived but even if we had tried and nothing could be done at least we had tried. She might still be here.”

While the legal limit of viability in the UK is 24 weeks (ironically the upper threshold for abortions), “at 22-23 weeks the [British Pregnancy Advisory] service says standard practice should be not to resuscitate the baby,” Roberts reported.

But Mrs. Dennis vigorously disagrees. “No one has a crystal ball, no one can predict if our child that night may or may not have survived based on other babies because they are all individuals,” she told the Sun. “But with help things could have been completely different, she could have had that chance if everything wasn’t decided for us and her, based on mistakes made and lack of communication.”

Mrs. Dennis has started a petition, which now includes more than 15,000 names, asking health care professionals to extend to babies “born breathing at 22 weeks the same treatment as babies born after the abortion limit.”

Looking back at little Autumn’s brief life, Mrs. Dennis told Roberts

“We expected the worst but she fought like the little fighter she is from the word go.

“She was placed on my chest and we had a few hours like that skin to skin, her little heart beating hard at work.

“We couldn’t do anything to help our little girl but try and be strong, and make her feel as loved, warm and comfortable as we possibly could until she passed away, and in that very moment our hearts broke all over again.

“A piece of my heart went with her that night that I’ll never get back but she gave me a piece of hers as well.”

Categories: Premature babies