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Baby born at 27 weeks now thriving as her MSP father fights to keep neonatal unit open

A Scottish MSP is determined to keep the neonatal unit of his local hospital open after the staff there kept his premature daughter alive.

The University Hospital Wishaw in Lanarkshire, Scotland has been named as having the top neonatal unit in the UK. Despite this, the unit has been marked for downgrading by the government, with Public Health Minister Jenni Minto claiming that this will give babies “the best chance of survival”.

But MSP Mark Griffin said that without the Wishaw unit, his daughter Rosa would not have survived. “There couldn’t have been a stabilisation and transfer to Glasgow, Aberdeen or maybe even the north of England because she was too sick”. 

“What the government is proposing is that Lanarkshire parents of the sickest babies, the ones who need the most support will be left to make a journey they know isn’t in the best interests of their baby or leave them with a skeleton staff who don’t have the award-winning knowledge, experience or capacity which exists right now”. 

He went on to say that any alterations would not improve the lives of the sick and premature babies in the area, as the “local heroes” at the Wishaw unit already gave the best possible care. 

Born weighing only 535g

Baby Rosa was born at 27 weeks weighing 535 grams and would go on to spend almost five months in the neonatal intensive care unit. 

To complicate matters further, mum Stephanie suffered from a haemorrhage shortly after giving birth, which required emergency surgery to treat. Her husband said that while she recovered over the next week, “She felt incredibly guilty that she couldn’t be beside our baby’s cot with our daughter but at least she could be nearby in a close-by ward to provide the breastmilk which is so crucial for the survival of premature babies”. 

Griffin pointed out the difficulty that transferring Rosa to another hospital would have caused. In addition to Stephanie’s ill health, the couple’s other daughter, Eva, was only a year old at the time and still needed a lot of care. Travelling to see Rosa on a regular basis would have been extremely difficult. “You are talking about moving mothers away from their communities, away from their families, away from their children, away from that vital support network”, he said.

An excellent recovery 

Baby Rosa is now six years old, and has made an excellent recovery. She is small for her age, but has no other indications of her early birth. 

Griffin is adamant that this is down to the efforts of the Wishaw unit. “As soon as she was born she went straight onto a ventilator. They could not have moved a baby as tiny and sick as that”.

The government said that they currently had no plans to change their minds or meet with the staff at the hospital.

Catherine Robinson, spokesperson for Right To Life UK, said “Neonatal units like the one at Wishaw, along with skilled and dedicated medical staff, are vital for the survival of sick and premature babies like Rosa. The government should consider whether these plans for downgrading are truly in the best interest of these babies and their families”.

Dear reader,

You may be surprised to learn that our 24-week abortion time limit is out of line with the majority of European Union countries, where the most common time limit for abortion on demand or on broad social grounds is 12 weeks gestation.

The latest guidance from the British Association of Perinatal Medicine enables doctors to intervene to save premature babies from 22 weeks. The latest research indicates that a significant number of babies born at 22 weeks gestation can survive outside the womb, and this number increases with proactive perinatal care.

This leaves a real contradiction in British law. In one room of a hospital, doctors could be working to save a baby born alive at 23 weeks whilst, in another room of that same hospital, a doctor could perform an abortion that would end the life of a baby at the same age.

The majority of the British population support reducing the time limit. Polling has shown that 70% of British women favour a reduction in the time limit from 24 weeks to 20 weeks or below.

Please click the button below to sign the petition to the Prime Minister, asking him to do everything in his power to reduce the abortion time limit.