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Mum mistook 1lb 8oz son for placenta after he was born 16 weeks prematurely

Mum Gemma Richards, 27, has told journalists how her baby was so small at birth that she mistook him for the placenta.

Gemma’s son Casper was born at 24 weeks, weighing 1lb 8oz and was given just a 30% chance of survival.

Gemma Richards had been getting ready for work as a carer when she experienced bleeding – something she initially dismissed, having experienced it with her three pregnancies prior.

Yet within an hour, she found herself in excruciating pain, and her husband Gareth, 33, phoned for an ambulance.

Gemma was taken to Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro and woke up hours later, having given birth.

Casper was immediately transferred to St Michael’s Hospital, Bristol, where he remained in the Intensive Care Unit for over a month.

Gemma said: ‘It’s all a bit of a blur, to be honest”.

“I remember a bit of bleeding in the morning but I didn’t think anything of it”.

“My husband phoned for an ambulance and when I arrived at hospital the doctors said I had some sort of infection and that at any minute could pass onto Casper”.

“The specialist team were telling me it would be safer for the baby to come out than be in. When I woke up he was so tiny. To be honest, because he was in a little ball I thought he was my placenta”.

“It wasn’t until he was turned around that I realised I was looking at my baby boy”.

In May, doctors performed emergency surgery on Casper, removing part of his bowel and fitting a stoma, extending both Gemma’s and his stay in hospital.

Unable to stay at the hospital, the family’s other children are at home with their father, Gareth, 200 miles away in Constantine, Cornwall.

Neither Gareth nor the other children have been able to hold Casper yet due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Gemma is currently desperately trying to fund travel and accommodation for Gareth and siblings Lizzie, 7, Tyler, 5, and Oscar, 2.

She said: “I feel I can’t leave him unless his dad is here […] We have three other children who I am missing and [we’d] just like [a] little normal back in our life”.

She added, “It’s hard enough being in a pandemic but to go through one of the scariest moments of your life without your family is hard”.

“My main concern is obviously Casper and we all just want him to get better”.

“He’s recently had some surgery so he will be in here for a while. Hopefully, soon the surgery will be reversed and his bowel can be reattached”.

“We’re going to find out more in the time to come but right now we just take it day by day”.

“We really do just want to thank anyone who has helped us so far with this, we are just so grateful and we really want to be together”.

Ever-improving chances for preterm infants

Babies are continuing to be born before or shortly after the abortion limit of 24 weeks gestation in Great Britain and going on to survive and thrive at greater rates than before. Studies suggest that the majority of premature babies grow up to be healthy adults without any major health problems.

A study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in October 2019, followed 2.56 million babies born in Sweden between 1973 and 1997, around six percent of whom were born prematurely.

Researchers compared the health data of the premature babies to those that had been born at full term. They found that 55% of premature babies had no serious chronic, physical, or mental health issues by early adulthood. This is compared to 63% for babies born at full term.

Additionally, with each passing decade, the odds of survival for a premature baby to adulthood have improved from about 91% of babies born in the 1970s to about 96% of those born in the 1990s.

A spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said:

“While it is wonderful to see that Caspar is being cared for, it is a source of national shame that it is currently legal to abort children up to 24 weeks gestation – and up to birth if they are likely to be born with a disability. These are not ‘clumps of cells’, they are children”.

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.