Mother whose son was given 12% chance to live welcomes guidance to save premature babies

A pregnant mother who begged doctors to forget about her and save her baby after both almost died has welcomed new guidance that encourages doctors to save babies born as early as 22 weeks into a pregnancy.

After swelling up severely, Stacie Hylans was admitted to hospital where doctors diagnosed her with pre-eclampsia and told her she had no choice but to deliver the baby early.

It meant she had to give birth to her son Alex Grief at just 24 weeks, with the young mother pleading with medics to save her baby.

Stacie told Derbyshire Live: “I was in shock and absolutely terrified. There was a chance I could die and there was a chance Alex wouldn’t survive.

“I remember vividly my mum signing forms in case the worse happened; it was horrible.

“I kept telling everyone please save the baby, don’t worry about me.”

Alexander Grief weighed little more than a pound when he was born and was given a 12% chance of survival.

But the strong youngster began to recover with the help of doctors and was allowed to go home after 20 weeks.

Despite his difficult start to life, Alex is now enjoying secondary school and the only signs of his premature birth are visual impairment and some learning difficulties.

Now Stacie, who spent the next few days in a high dependency unit, has welcomed news that babies will now be resuscitated at 22 weeks thanks to advances in medicine.

Stacie, who is also mum to Ellis, 12, Oscar, eight, and Mickey, seven months, said: “Any baby born breathing should be given a chance.

“My son was only saved because he was 24-weeks gestation, had he have been born a day or two before, they wouldn’t have had a legal right to have tried.

“But with this news, does it mean the abortion limit will be lowered? As this proves that a baby can survive at the limit of which a person can abort.

“I’m delighted they have passed this. So many more babies will be saved and given a chance.”

The survival rate for extremely premature babies has doubled over the past decade, prompting new guidance allowing doctors to try to save babies born as early as 22 weeks into a pregnancy.

In 2008 only two out of ten babies born alive at 23 weeks went on to survive. Today, four out of 10 babies born at 23 weeks and receiving treatment in UK neonatal units are expected to survive.

When the guidance was released, Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said:

“This is something that Parliament should urgently revisit. It has been over a decade since time limits were last debated fully in Parliament, in 2008.

There is a real contradiction in British law. In one room of a hospital, doctors could be working to save a baby born alive before 24 weeks whilst in another room a doctor could perform an abortion which would end the life of a baby at the same age. Surely this contradiction needs to end?

Independent polling from ComRes shows that 70% of women in the UK want to see the time limit for abortion reduced to 20 weeks or below. Our current abortion time limit is way out of line with the rest of Europe where the most common abortion time limit is 12 weeks.

This change in guidance adds further evidence to the need for Parliament to urgently review our current abortion time limit. We support any change in law that would help lower abortion numbers and save the lives of babies in the womb.

It’s time that our laws were brought into line with public opinion, modern science and the rest of Europe.”

About 60,000 babies are born prematurely in the UK each year, of which 3,148 are considered “extremely premature” — born before 27 weeks.

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