Mum’s premature baby left to die because he was technically a ‘miscarriage’


by Emma Dodds |
Published on

Carlie Underhill gave birth to Kian-John at 22 weeks who was alive and kicking but doctors let him die as he was technically a "miscarriage"

Last summer, Carlie Underhill was excitedly getting ready to welcome her third baby.

But as the mum-of-two reached the 16-week mark, she started to experience bleeding – something she knew did not feel right.

At 20 weeks, she went for a scan which worryingly showed her placenta had begun to detach from the womb.

Kian-John was born alive and kicking but doctors could not step in to help him (Credit: Caters News Agency) ©Caters News Agency

Only a week later, she started experiencing pains that felt like contractions, so she immediately rang the doctors and told them she believed she was going into labour at 22 weeks.

Carlie, from Hereford, says that they did not believe her at first, but when a doctor examined her later that evening, they confirmed she was in fact in labour.

She said: "I had been through labour twice before, so I knew what my body was telling me.

"It was really hard to get them to see me. I had to measure and record my own contractions to convince them I was having them. The doctors were shocked when they found out, but I wasn't at all. I knew it."

Carlie Underhill was preparing for the birth of her third baby (Credit: Caters News Agency) ©Caters News Agency

Carlie gave birth to a baby boy, who she named Kian-John, on 16 June just before 5am. Absolutely tiny, he weighed just over seven ounces and was only 10 inches long.

Carlie describes how he was kicking, moving and breathing, and she held him to her chest.

But devastatingly, he was born before the 24-week mark of viability.

This means that doctors are not allowed to intervene and help any babies born before that time.

Despite Carlie's efforts, no-one was able to help her keep Kian-John alive. She was left only with a midwife who waited for 45 minutes for him to die so that she could confirm the time of death.

The 23-year-old said: "It seemed incredibly heartless. She just stood there and did nothing.

"She did not offer any comfort, but just kept checking to see if Kian-John had died. I felt so helpless and lonely.

"When Kian-John was first born and I found out he was alive I was so elated. It was unexpected, and I thought he had a chance, and that they would help me. He was breathing and kicking around. It was a massive relief. But when they told me he was still classed as a miscarriage and there was nothing they would do, my world fell apart. I was completely devastated.

"I was crying and sobbing and begging for them to help. But the nurse just stood there, felt his back every ten minutes, and said 'not yet'. It's so frustrating and sad, and I felt so helpless.

"They should help any person who is alive and needs them. Just to leave someone suffering and struggling is inhuman."

Kian-John was born at 22 weeks - just before the 24-week mark of viability (Credit: Getty Images) ©Getty Images

Carlie goes on to explain that her daughter, Olivia, four, had been very excited about a new baby brother: "It was almost worse when I got home. My daughter was really involved and came to all my scans with me.

"I went into hospital pregnant and came out without a baby, and she was devastated. She had lost her little brother."

The full-time mum to Olivia and Michael, three, is now arguing for the law to be changed to stop other parents having to go through the same thing.

She said: "I saw that a baby survived being born at 21 weeks and three days in the US. It leaves you thinking about what could have been for me. If they had fought to save my baby, I could have had closure.

"I would not have asked for him to be resuscitated. That would have been too much. But he was alive and fighting. I want them to change the regulations. I don't want another mother to have to go through that."

Carlie felt she was let down (Credit: Getty Images) ©Getty Images

A spokesperson for the Wye Valley NHS Trust said: "A premature birth is a traumatic moment for any parent. The trust understands this and has maternity staff trained to support parents and their families when these events occur.

"As with other NHS trusts, Wye Valley NHS Trust abides by the framework for clinical practice laid down by the British Association of Perinatal Medicine (BAPM), which covers procedures when babies are born at less than 26 weeks of gestation."

The spokesperson went on to explain why babies cannot be helped before that time: "Although some premature babies born at 24 weeks do survive, only in extremely rare cases have babies born at 22 weeks survived because their lungs and other vital organs are not developed enough.

"The BAPM guidelines state than in the best interests of the baby, standard practice is for resuscitation not to be carried out."

Michelle Connor Steve McDonald Coronation Street
Kym Marsh portrayed having a late miscarriage on Coronation Street after going through one herself (Credit: ITV Pictures) ©ITV

This comes after Coronation Street tackled an early miscarriage storyline earlier this year.

Kym Marsh plays Michelle Connor in the soap, who tragically suffered a miscarriage at 23 weeks, and so she was not issued a birth certificate.

The storyline was made even more poignant by the fact that Kym herself had been through the exact same experience, as had her co-star and on-screen husband Simon Gregson.

Have you or a loved one ever suffered a late miscarriage? Do you think that the law should be changed? We'd love to hear from you – email us or get in touch on Facebook and Twitter.

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