A mum has told of her devastation after her tiny baby was born alive after an abortion at 18 weeks – and lived for ten hours.
Loran Denison, 27, a stay-at-home mum from Blackburn, Lancashire, was pregnant with her fourth child, when a test at 15 weeks revealed he had Edwards’ syndrome.
It’s a rare but very serious condition and most babies with Edwards’ syndrome will die before or shortly after being born, or at a young age.
Loran and partner Scott Watson, 35, made the agonising decision to have a medical abortion, after being told he was unlikely to be born alive.
She took a tablet and returned to hospital to be induced at 18 weeks and four days – but was astonished when her son Kiyo Bleu Watson was born breathing and alive.
And while the grieving mother said she doesn’t want to deter anyone from making the right choice for them, watching her son die for 10 hours was ‘torture’.
Loran Denison (pictured), 27, has told of her devastation after her tiny baby was born alive after an abortion at 18 weeks – and lived for ten hours. Pictured, with daughter Bunni Rose
Loran Denison and Scott learned at 15 weeks that their son had Edwards’ syndrome – a rare but very serious condition and most babies with Edwards’ syndrome will die before or shortly after being born> Pictured, Scott holding Kiyo Bleu Watson in hospital
Loran and Scott Watson made the agonising decision to have a medical abortion after being told their baby (pictured) was unlikely to be born alive
‘I’m glad I had that bit of time with him but it also made the situation much harder,’ explained Loran.
‘They told me he had typical Edwards’ Syndrome so would pass away before or just after birth. My boy had a lion heart.’
‘I thought I had done the hard bit when I made the difficult decision to have an abortion, but now it feels ten times worse.
‘I just want other mums to know in case this happens to them. I had to watch his heartbeat getting slower and watch his life draining out of him.
The couple had their son blessed and christened in hospital while he was alive. Pictured, Kiyo Bleu Watson’s hand
While Loran doesn’t want to deter anyone from making the right choice for them, she said watching her son die was ‘torture.’ Pictured, Loran with daughters Bunni Rose, three, and Romee Beau, two
What are the chances of a baby surviving an abortion and should doctors give treatment?
According to the The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, live birth following medical termination of pregnancy before 22 weeks is ‘very uncommon’.
However, a 2005 report revealed that 66 babies survived NHS abortions in one year and were able to breathe unaided.
About half were alive for an hour, while one survived ten hours.
Experts previously believed the phenomenon was limited to a handful of cases a year.
The babies were aborted using a drug to soften the cervix and induce labour. Once born no medical help is offered.
The statistics were contained in the small print of an official report by the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health, commissioned by the Government.
Figures from the US suggest that as many as 2.3 per 1,000 babies survive surgical abortion, while it’s 1-14 per 1,000 for early medical abortions before nine weeks.
No data exists on aborted babies who survive into childhood and beyond, but rare cases have been reported.
The report said the terminations were ‘predominantly on account of congenital anomalies’, which may be life-threatening but which can also include problems such as cleft palate and club feet.
Guidance from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recommends babies over 22 weeks who survive abortion should have their hearts stopped by lethal injection.
The figures for the CEMACH 2007 Perinatal Mortality report, gathered from hospitals in England and Wales during 2005, reveal 16 babies who survived abortion were born after 22 weeks in the womb or later in the pregnancy.
The remaining 50 were under 22 weeks’ gestation.
CEMACH chief executive Richard Congdon said lethal injection had not been given in the 16 abortions over 22 weeks’ gestation because death was ‘inevitable’.
‘You just want to keep your children alive. It was like torture. None of the doctors thought he would be born alive.
‘When my partner picked him up after he was born he said “His heart is beating”, and they said “No way”.
‘When I took the first tablet on the sixth they said it would stop the pregnancy, heartbeat and everything, so we expected he wouldn’t be alive when he was born.
‘They didn’t check for a heartbeat before inducing labour, and I wish they had. I don’t have words for how awful it was.’
Edwards Syndrome is a rare condition and most babies with it don’t live to full-term, or die a couple of hours after being born, because they have an extra chromosome, number 18, according to the NHS website.
It says around 13 in 100 babies with Edwards Syndrome who are born alive go on to have their first birthday.
Edwards Syndrome can cause a mixture of symptoms, varying in different people, including learning difficulties, heart, respiratory, kidney or gastrointestinal problems, the website says.
The level of illness can depend on how much of the extra chromosome patients have, and how many cells carry the copy, so there is full, mosaic or partial Edwards Syndrome.
Loran said she was told Kiyo Bleu had ‘typical Edwards Syndrome’. After taking a tablet to stop the pregnancy developing on April 6, Loran returned to the
Women and Newborn Unit at Burnley General Hospital, on April 8 to induce the birth.
‘I went in for a medical abortion because he was carrying Edwards Syndrome,’ said Loran. ‘We had already said our goodbyes when we went in on the 8th, because I’d taken the termination tablet on the sixth.’
But little Kiyo Bleu Watson was born alive on April 9 at 3.50pm, weighing 150g, to the shock of his parents, Loran and Scott Watson, 35, and doctors.
They had him blessed and christened in hospital while he was alive.
Though glad to have met him, Loran said it was agonising to wait ten hours watching their newborn son fade until he died on April 10 at 2.30am.
After he died little Kiyo bleu went home to be with Loran, Scott, who works as a labourer, and their other three children for four days.
The family spent time with him in a special cot with a cold mattress until he needed to go to a funeral parlour on April 14 to wait for his funeral.
The family spent time with Kiyo in a special cot with a cold mattress until he needed to go to a funeral parlour on April 14 to wait for his funeral. Pictured, Rocco Watson, six, and sisters Bunni Rose, three, and Romee Beau, two
Though glad to have met him, Loran said it was agonising to wait ten hours watching their newborn son fade until he died on April 10 at 2.30am. Pictured, Loran with daughter Bunni Rose
He spent time with his big brother Rocco Watson, six, and sisters Bunni Rose, three, and Romee Beau, two.
WHAT IS EDWARDS’ SYNDROME?
Edwards’ syndrome, also known as trisomy 18, is a rare but serious genetic condition.
More than 95 per cent of babies with the disorder die before they are born, statistics show. Those that are delivered tend to pass away within minutes.
Some infants with a less severe form of the disease live beyond a year, but it is very rare to survive into adulthood.
Edwards’ syndrome occurs when a baby has three copies of chromosome number 18, rather than the usual two. This severely disrupts their development.
The condition is thought to affect between one in every 6,000 to 8,000 births worldwide.
It is rarely inherited and usually comes about at a random time during the formation of the sperm or egg.
If a baby survives, symptoms include:
Edwards’ syndrome is looked for in the scan pregnant women are offered on the NHS at 10-to-14 weeks.
Some women choose to terminate their pregnancy if Edwards’ syndrome is diagnosed.
There is no cure. Treatment focuses on addressing life-threatening issues, such as infections and heart defects.
If a child survives, they may need phsyio or occupational therapy to help with their movement.
‘It was awful,’ she said. ‘I can’t get my head around how he survived. ‘I don’t even have a word for how horrible it feels. There is a person I’ve read about who has survived with Edwards Syndrome to 40.
‘Kiyo Bleu was so strong now I wonder if he would have survived. His heartbeat was so strong you could feel it.
‘If I had known he would be born alive I probably would have made a different decision.
‘I thought I was doing the right thing but now I think I have done the wrong thing. He just looked so normal.’
East Lancashire hospitals NHS Trust declined to comment.