A mother has posted harrowing pictures of her dying baby – in a bid to highlight the “simple” hospital test that could have saved him.
Sarah Nelson, of Selby, North Yorkshire, posted an image of Facebook of her cradling son Zane in hospital, a day old, dead in her arms.
Another picture showed Zane seriously ill hours before his passing, connected to wires and tubes keeping him alive.
Sarah, 38, now a mother-of-three, suffered from a condition known as vasa praevia, discovered only after Zane’s birth where survival rate is 40%.
Vasa praevia occurs in pregnancy when one or more of the baby’s placental or umbilical vessels cross the entrance to the uterus. During childbirth these vessels can tear causing rapid death from bleeding or become compressed cutting off the baby’s oxygen.
Sarah claims that a “simple test” that takes “a couple of extra minutes at most” would have saved Zane, and other babies whose mothers have the condition, from dying.
The images were posted days before what would have been Zane’s twelfth birthday on October 16, but which is now marked by the anniversary of his death.
Along with the pictures, Sarah explained her reasons for writing the post.
She wrote: “If there was a simple test for a little known, but life-threatening condition, which could save your healthy, full term baby during pregnancy would you want to take it?
“Vasa Praevia is a condition which is killing our babies. But it can be easily detected during an appointment that pregnant women already attend, using equipment already available.
“The test is reliable and accurate, and it will save most of the 555 perfectly healthy babies who are affected every year in the UK.
“The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the UK National Screening Committee currently deem this screening test unbeneficial.
Speaking about her personal experience, she added: “Undiagnosed vasa praevia is the first time you hold your son being when they take him off life support to allow him to die in your arms.
“It’s spending time getting to know him up close but all the while his body temperature is dropping because he’s no longer alive.
Speaking today (Mon), Sarah, said that, reading the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the UK National Screening Committee (NSC) reasons for not scanning make her “incredibly angry”.
She said: “They recently reviewed their policy about the test and when they did it they still decided not to change policy.
“It made me so angry. They admit it would save 150 babies a year.
“When you ask them to scan for it, they do, but you have to push them to do it and they are very resistant.
“It makes me so angry. It just gets me so cross.
“The test takes a couple of extra minutes at most.”
Facebook users reacted to Sarah’s post by signing her petition to have the scans introduced as part of the regular screening process, and by sending condolences.
Kelly Marie wrote: “Signed for you. Bless you. I sadly know of two babies who died because of this already. It’s awful to think it’s so preventable.”
Victoria Laurie said: “Signed and shared. What is sad is that a lot of hospitals don’t change their scan procedure even when this happens in their delivery suites and operating theatres. My heart goes out to you.”
James Cooper wrote: “Sarah, I am so sorry for your loss but thank you so much for sharing your story so that hopefully this won’t happen to other families in the future.”
A spokesperson for the RCOG said: “In the UK NHS, any decisions on population screening programmes are made by the UK National Screening Committee (NSC), who make and review recommendations on a range of different topics.
“The RCOG is guided by the NSC which does not recommend screening for vasa praevia as there is inefficient evidence to support universal screening for vasa praevia at the time of the midpregnancy routine fetal anomaly scan in the general population.
“Each Baby Counts is the RCOG’s national quality improvement programme to reduce the number of babies who die or are left severely disabled as a result of incidents occurring during term labour.
“The programme’s eligibility criteria includes babies who are born at term following labour and the RCOG have not excluded babies affected by vasa praevia.
“It is likely that babies who are sadly affected by undiagnosed vasa praevia will be included in the Each Baby Counts analysis.
“We hope that through the project we can share recommendations that will improve care for women and babies throughout the UK.”