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Dyana Rodriguez

(Part of letter also sent to The Guardian, including reponse also to its article: Long-life Britain and the price we will all have to pay.)

On Wednesday 9 March BBC 2 is going to screen Adam Wishart's documentary, 23 week babies : The Price of Life. On his website, Wishart outlines the issues: “The odds are stark: of every 100 that are born, only one will reach adulthood without a disability. Because of these statistics, the Dutch do not resuscitate these babies. And now NHS managers are wondering if the money could be better spent on other patients?”

Undoubtedly, it's a tough dilemma. But what is not in doubt is that decisions to save these babies, or to “let nature take its course”, should be left to doctors and parents, and not to NSH managers. If money is ever to be the deciding factor in whether or not to save a life, then we're on dangerous ground indeed.


I think I am uniquely placed to comment on this, I was born 50 years ago at what was then the edge of life 28 weeks, I was 3Lbs when I was born. I owe my life to what was then a brand new tool an incubator. Fortunately I have no resulting disabilities and have led so far a full and active life, but I know I am an exception a 1 in many thousands. I have concluded that just because we can do so it's not moot that we should keep alive those who have a poor outlook. I fully realise that this viewpoint might have resulted in my own death as my outlook at that time was completely unknown. Today we know much more and on balance we should follow the Dutch model


I was pregnant with twins almost 16 yrs ago my waters broke at 23+ weeeks and after admission to hospital I was told that it was probable that my babies would not be resusitated. after another 2 hospital transfers I eventually delivered 2 live children at 24 wks.Hannah died at 2 days old after having a severe bleed but Rachel who i had previously been told would not survive fought on. now at almost 16yrs old she has no disabilities. she is a bright clever "normal" teenage ( whatever one of those is. as the parent of an extremely prematue baby i still do not believe in life at any cost but do believe that all babies should be given the right to life and believe that without these babies we will never learn. money should not be a deciding factor!

True Religion Outlet

Love is in the winter of a sunshine, make the person feels cold and hunger nazr Mohammed human warmth.

Pearl Pope

I haven't even seen the programme yet but already I can see myself shouting at the TV tonight!!

My little girl was born exactly 21 weeks after her embryo was placed in my womb (I had IVF treatment). She is 9 years old this year and has NO medical problems NO mental disabilities and NO physical disabilities. I admit she went through hell during her first few months of life and we almost lost her several times - but how can you say her life is not viable? I know we are in the minority really, I know what the statistics are and I remind myself every day how lucky we have been - but What price can you put on my little girl's life?

terry scott

my daughter had ivf, my grandson connor was born at 21 weeks, sadly he passed away after 2 and half hours, she was however still pregnant with his brother. he was born 3 weeks laters, and is now a wonderful lively and fantastic 10 month old.... but we know of others who suffered heartbreak when their baby also passed away.. its about LIFE not MONEY.. everyone must have the chance to live regardless


Our adopted daughter was born at 23 weeks, and 738 grams. She is 17 months old now and has no health complications.

Patricia Calland

I wonder if it is right to keep babies alive at 23 weeks and under due to the probable complications and the quality of life of these children.

I am not writing these words lightly as I had a baby at 23 weeks in 2001 and my daughter weighed 1 pound 4 ounces and battled for life for 5 days.

I understand that babies are miracles but surely what is best for the baby should be higher priority than what the mother feels is right at the time. I know ten years later I think with a clearer head and feel more differently about the situation.


Maybe you have a lot to learn about life yet Adam.
Pointing the masses toward visions of idealism is not reality and I hope will never become so.Money is not all the world but our lives and that of others are and I suspect this programme has been made by a stereotypical atheist with little understanding of peoples lives and traumatic experiences themselves.A little short of compassion and only bathed in ambitious programme making and sensationalism exploiting the persons within the documentary.Those who commonly do not value humanity except as a bunch of cells and feel they have the right to price treatments and sentence death.Once life becomes cheap and has a price are we going to value all illness according to how much the NHS can afford?So how much is a downs syndrome baby valued at and how much is an elderly ill persons care valued at?Lets have a tarrif! Is this the society we want for ourselves and our loved ones? Medicine is about saving life and progress will march on and all life is priceless not a marketable commodity.Horrible programme and devalues all who took part by the very mercenary use of their emotions.For shame! and are all the disabled to be disposed of now as too expensive,where does it stop? We have to cherish all life and as hard as it is we as a society have to contend with the financial side the best we can alongside these difficulties.I am horrifed at the blatant use of vulnerable and depressed people who have a right to live.No one has this right to pronounce the time of death except God and are we not still a christian country?

Patricia Calland

To jl: God is the only who has the right to issue the date of death to any individual, therefore, surely no one should be allowed medical care when it's life sustaining. Wouldn't that be against God? Just how much, as humans, should we be taking control of when it comes to elongating the human lifespan? If we are meant to get cancer and die at 21, MS and die at 50, or be born at 23 weeks then shouldn't we allow death to occur naturally?

Hazel Whittemore

I was born at 23 weeks back in 1989. I was given a 2% chance of survival and a 99% of disability. I pulled through after being in hospital for 5 months and have lead a normal, happy life. I would have liked to have been considered for this program and video footage of some of my operations are still used to train new surgeons about how to perform a cricoid split operation on such tiny babies. I was the first successful cricoid split operation to be performed by surgeons on a 23 weeks baby ^_^

I'm VERY lucky to be alive ^_^


Babies who are born at full term still run the risk of handycaps, they can also be disabled, I understand the risks are higher is prem babies but does this mean that they will also stop treatment on these babies because it's too costly! Where will this end?


I sympathise with the comments posted about not putting a price on a new life, but felt that the £10m quoted was probably understated (taking into account on-going support for rest of life for the survivors). I felt very sorry for the new parents who were being asked to make an impossible decision, with little or no understanding of what "deterioration", "intervention" or a life with a severe disability can mean - for the child or the family. This should be the province of the Ethics committees surely? I write as a parent of a severely disabled child with CP (full term as it happens) and found the young lady's testimony (forgotten her name already - neo-nate nurse's daughter) very moving. If she's not doing it already, she needs to be getting a job doing disability campaigning for adult services - she was great! Good luck to everyone in this nightmare situation though.
nb. from my own perspective - any chance of an investigation into the pros and cons of planned c sections - an earlier one for us might have helped :-)


I think that we need to remember the full picture, the children have a life after leaving hospital and this is so often forgotten. Disability is funded until 18 when the children transfer to adult services every bit of support is taken away, leaving the parents being the carers as they are getting so much older themselves. Medical staff have great potential to give dignity and this should be done before medical intervention starts, 23 weeks is too young to resus, the family should not need to make theses choices, there shouldn't be the option...

Anne Smedley

We seem to have made what seems to be the irreversible decision to keep these babies alive. Morally therefore we have a duty to continue to support these lives throughout if necessary and in a proper manner and not stop support at 18. I agree totally with the final comments of the presenter. Definitely there should be an advocate for the baby as even the most rational of parents will be too emotional at this time to make a balanced judgement


Our daughter was born at 23 weeks. We were told automatically that we had 95% chance that she would not survive. We however clung to the 5% chance that she would. Despite the setbacks she suffered of which there always seemed to be many she survived and is now a very healthy and happy 6 year old (soon to be 7). The only set back she suffered long term is that she required laser eye surgery at 10 weeks old which saved her sight. We class her as our lottery win and never take for granted what she went though to be here. She recieved excellent treatment at the Liverpool Womans Hospital to whom we could not thank enough.

We spend money on obisity, drug users and alcoholic dependancy, why should we not help babies who do have a chance of survival.

Sue Edmondson

Cost should never be the deciding factor in whether or not to save a life, be it the life of a premature baby or of a senior citizen.

Jessica H

My cousin Stephen is in his early fifties,born at 21 weeks, weighing ONE Pound, he was the smallest survivor at the time. He is over six feet tall, his hobby is long distance cycle riding. He does wear glasses but so do both of his parents, so maybe he would have anyway. He has no other disabilities. He has a degree and for many years was a surveyor, now becoming a vicar. He has two strapping healthy intelligent sons who would not exist either if he had not been allowed to survive! Who has the right to switch my cousin and others like him off? He was ill several times before his 'due date' but he survived intact because of dedicated care at a local hospital.

melissa massey

i had my son when i was 16 he was 21 weeks old sadly he never made it. But i dont no how people can sleep at night even thinking of not helping these babys. Come on how many of these docs have had a prem baby??? As for not having money to help them, money isnt everythink!!! If it was your little boy or girl im sure you would be the first to try and get help!!! No body asked for it to happen to them!!! I mean i didnt!!! Dont all babys have a right to fight????????

Ben Smith

It's a sensitive issue and one where there are no easy answers. It's a shame that so many people commenting on here seem to want to pretend that we have limitless resources and to ignore the trauma that's being inflicted on the parents and babies with such limited chances of a positive outcome. If I were in the position I'm sure I'd want to do whatever could be done but is it right for my feelings about it to be the determining factor? Is it even fair to expect parents in the middle of such an emotional event to make that decision? The film seemed fair and balanced which is more than can be said for a lot of the comments here sadly.

Steve Madds

Have you got children Adam? My son was born last week at 39 weeks so was full term. I believe in fate and things happen for a reason. I would take 90 bad stories for 1 matilda and so should the NHS. Good documentary but you should have spoken about the babies a little bit more like human beings.


My little boy was born at 23weeks exactly, weighing 555g. He is now 16 mths old. He doesn't appear to have long term problems. He came home on oxygen and needs help with weigh gain. Otherwise he is a healthy little boy. Long term, he shouldn't encounter any major disabilities. We may be a minority but without a chance these babies have no hope!!!

David J R Hutchon

As a recently retired obstetrician after 35 years I have dealt with a steady change in what gestation was considered viable. What we must not do is interfere with the natural physological processes unless we know that it is beneficial to the baby. Note in the delivery shown (and common practice), that the baby's umbilical cord was clamped and cut immediately after birth as it was wrapped in a towel then taken over to the resuscitaire to be placed in a polythene bag. Why was this done? A healthy baby cannot be expected to instantly alter its circulation (what we call transition) at birth, and a very preterm baby should not be forced to change its circulation by clamping the cord. Some very emminent paediatricians (notably in Bristol and Rhode Island) have pointed this out before but they are ignored. If a preterm baby is kept warm and allowed to transition for a minute after birth, there is already RCT evidence that they cope better.
This is not directly related to the BBC question but it demonstrates that everything is not being done for these babies.

Lisa Stell

An emotive issue which was highlighting throughout; statistics, disability, and bad outcomes.

Very disappointed to see a programme which has raised the profile of neonates, but in a negative way.

Julie B

My comment really concerns Heather, I was very upset and angry to watch how this young lady who at the age of 18 apppears to have been abandoned by all the agencies. The impact clearly impacting on her mental health.
Heather is entitled to a needs led assessment - the appropriate level of support to enable her to be included in society and lead a normal life. Not just get out of bed! What can I say - only that I think that the reported support (or lack of it) Heather receives is outrageous and disgusting.
Just from this small snap shot of Heather's character and abilities it is clear to me that Further education, University,and/or employment is not prohibitive. On the contrary, with the right help - she can do anything.
Well done Heather, you presented yourself extremely well and you clearly are an intelligent individual with oodles of potential.
I hope that Heather gets the support she both needs and deserves to fulfill her dreams and aspirations.
My daughter who will be 21 soon has profound learning disabilities, Autism and physical problems - not born a 23 week baby ( as the children featured have been labelled) but at 35 weeks - dealing with disability/difference is stressful, but we are ALL human - learning what rights individuals have, and what support/advice is available, helps you to continue to access or fight to get the appropriate services -
After all isn't inclusion a major element of all the policies/papers on Disability and Equality??


I was born 3 months early in 1977 and was just over 2lbs at birth.
I think it is totally wrong for medics to decide not to assist pre-term
arrivals as much as they physically can. Especially as all these posts can testify the fight for survival that preterm babies endure.


This was a fantastic, thought provoking insight to the difficulties faced by 23 weekers and their families.
Adam gave a balanced and realistic picture of neonatal care.
As a neonatal nurse these kind of ethical dilemmas are ones we often face and until now most of the exposure has been the miracle stories. We must remember the reality is that survival rates remain low and whether extreme premature babies should be resuscitated is not all about money, which is a consideration, but should be about humanity, dignity and quality of life.

Isobel & Neil

An excellent dissertation on the problems of prematurity. We have two disabled children who exemplify the difficulties of a dependent life with diminishing resources available to them. In addition to their obvious mental impairment one needs to consider the behavioural problems and hidden disabilities which makes providing for them so desperately hard. We live in fear of them outliving us and yet feel dreadful for thinking like this. We are passionately devoted to them and medically trained yet unable to provide for their needs without substantial financial support. The paediatrician in your programme articulated this well. It is not romantic once childhood has passed.

Sarah Keegan

The programme was really excellent, gentle and sad. Being more open about this area, and giving people a chance to talk before they become involved in such hard decisions is much better than not.

Some commenters seem to be missing the point of the programme 1. that the babies who survive need very intensive care and support and it strongly advocated this and 2. the odds of survival (regardless of disability) are very small, and we put any resuscitated babies through a lot of pain, horror and fear. The cost is secondary to the issue of suffering.

(and so 3. citing your own/your child's disability free survival is not helpful since the context is hundreds or thousands of babies who -factually - do not)

The filmaker and the clinical staff were very brave in discussing the second point, and did so carefully and compassionately. They were not taking decisions lightly or quickly.

Thank you. And thank you for the parents for allowing insight into such a horrifying situation

Mary Pickford

A tough, intelligent, challenging programme. I can't help feeling that it must be kinder to the 23 week babies and their parents to let nature take its course in a calm, loving and compassionate atmosphere than subject them to weeks of protracted but doomed clinical intervention.

And that clinical staff must take responsibility for the situation and not dump the decision on traumatised, ill-informed parents at a time of emotional crisis.

Josie roach

All that was commented about was negative negative negative!! The program went out of it's way to put money before life!! Theravada many as seen above that survive without complications yet they were not filmed!! Why is this?? My daughters were 24 week twins they are very well happy babies just about to turn 1 !!

What about the 23 weekers that never needed resuscitation are they not worth the money either!! The reason survival is so low is there are very few hospitals that can help these babies!!

He made it look like we all had our babies early because we are poor or teens!! I'm a 27 yr old married woman living comfortably !!

The figures were even wrong fir statistics check out the bliss website fir accurate survival rates!! Their information on chronic lung affecting them for life was ludicrous!!
Disgusting programme!!

Dr Peter Burke

What a terrible shame to put the cost of life as a reason not to save it. It seems the moral issues has become confused with the financial one. Clearly medical care is needed but the experience of medical staff distorts perceptions about the lives saved. Even 9 out of 100 seems better than none at all, ask the parents. My experience on a leukaemia ward with my son had similar odds, but thankfully the cost implication was never discussed.

I am sorry Adam you misdirected a great opportunity to celebrate success over the failures still encumbant in modern medicine.

Emma Allen

My twin boys were born 4 years ago at 23 weeks and 1 day, devastatingly my son Jack died after 11 days due to infection, my son Charlie will be 5 in April, he is behind in his development but other than that a perfectly healthy and beautiful baby boy. The programme you made did not show the decisions the parents have to make during the time on the unit or the heartbreak they go through every single day, it was all focused on money and if it was worth saving these beautiful tiny human beings - please explain to me how saving the life of a baby is any different to saving the life of any other human being - it is still a life and they still deserve a chance to survive - your programme was one sided and biased - not all mothers will continue treatment at all cost and it's wrong to imply this - you make the decisions at the time on what the doctors advise. I challenge you to meet my son now and tell me he wasn't worth every penny spent to save his life, he deserved the change to survive the same as any other human and you can't tell me he isn't grateful to be here - he is happy and loving life and I for one am so grateful to the dr's who treated him and the choices I made regarding his treatment.

Gillian West

As the parent of a 12-year-old ex-premature baby, I think Adam is to be whole-heartedly commended for his honest and unemotional look into this highly-charged and divisive area. Whilst I am really happy for those parents who are the "success stories" and can quote survival in the face of insurrmountable odds of extremely premature babies, for those children less fortunate, the support services are just not there as eloquently put by Heather Rutherford in the programme. What a wonderful girl and why has she been abandoned by the support services she requires just because she is over 18? As with every case of disputed statistics we can always find a counter-argument to support our opposing view, the one indisputable truth however, is that children who require on-going therapeutic inputs and support have a long waiting time for a very patch and irregular service. Outcomes are often along socio-economic lines as the parents fortunate enough to have the financial wherewithal end up paying for this privately otherwise their children would not access the services they so desperately require. Just because a topic is sensitive does not mean it should not be broached and only dealt with in pink, fluffy 'happy ever after' fashion. This is a huge ethical and medical dilemma but please do not let an open discussion be clouded by the misty-eyed "it's a baby so it must be saved at all costs" brigade. They are not the ones who have to pick up the pieces, watch their child suffer, see it being socially excluded as a result of its disabilities and have to fight daily for their child just to have a decent chance of a "normal" life, whatever that might be. Thank goodness for film-makers like Adam and for the parents and staff featured for their honesty and bravery in extremely distressing circumstances.

Emma Allen

On another note - what is the point in having these pioneering medicines and treatments if we are not going to use them - the point is they were developed to help these babies and that's why they're being used, if they didn't work none of the babies would survive and there would be no point in the first place.

Jacqueline Ewers

I am the mother of a 23 weeker born in 1998. I'm grateful that the Drs made the decision to treat him rather than leave him to die. He has no disabilities and is a healthy 13 year old. His only complication when he was born was the maturity of his lungs. He currently has no asthma problems.

I subsequently had a 27 weeker who also has no problems. I understand that in this time the cost of providing NHS services are being challenged but these children deserve a chance to live and none of us have the right to take that away.

Nicola Rodger

Thank you Mr Wishart for your thoughtful dissertation on this most difficult subject, reading the comments here I too have a wonderful example of todays fantastic medical advances, our daughter, Lily (2 years old )was born at 27 weeks, weighing 1lb 7oz, I believe she is the exception, rather than the rule, and has no difficulties whatsoever, after having spent 3 months on NICU. The long time we spent in 'the system' I found very little information was given to us in terms of the future, and any complications our daughter may suffer, staff in fact seemed reluctant to give us the truths, every case is different, and in such small babies, very unpredictable. In my opinion, the fact remains, these babies would NOT survive without intervention, cost versus life is a fruitless argument as you can never reach a conclusion. I believe the intentions are truly well meant, but end up doing more harm than good

fiona worthington

21 years ago i was born at 26 and half weeks premature and without the medical treatment and care i would definatly not be here today . The care that neonatal services provide is most definatly life changing .It should be rembered and i feel that i am proof that no matter how early a baby is born it is not a feotus /non viable /or viable that it is in fact a life.

@fiona_xoxo_ (twiiter)

hannah mcdermott

*I am a mother to a 25 weeker; he is now 2 and is doing extremely well
During the program considering the producers had very little understanding of the world of premature babies, I would say there was a reasonable amount of views from all sides although there seemed to be a slant towards the idea that the viability should be moved, but I beleive that would be wrong, by doing that you would be suggesting that those that have survived from being born at 23 weeks with or with out disabilities shouldn't have been assisted when born and a mother who is to have a 23 week baby would know that there is a chance of survival, how ever small the chances of coming home, a life in hospital is still a life, the pain and discomfort for the baby is a harsh reality but one that a mother would believe to be worth a try for them to come out the other side well, a mother being the babies advocate!
When the program talked about putting the funds in to preventing premature birth, I believe strongly that this area of research should be on going but this part of the film was upsetting for me as it was suggested that a majority of women that go in to premature birth could have done something different during pregnancy to prevent it...with someone smoking in the background, I spent 6 months in hospital with my son and met many parents with babies of similar gestation, all of them were of very different backgrounds and very few of low house hold incomes. I would say from my experience that a majority of us it happens to, look after our selves when pregnant, the baby is born in good condition considering how early and for me there was no reason found, it happens to people from all backgrounds and ethnic groups etc and for many reasons. yes some are born early for reasons known, that could be prevented but every case is different and that was not the impression given during the program. I am finding it difficult to understand why a baby born in to a low income house hold has any thing to do with this issue as I would say more than any thing it takes love and support from a parent to help the baby/child thrive. The program also didn't make it clear that the girl now in her 20's born at 26 weeks would have had very different chances to a baby born at that gestation today, with the treatment having come such a long way thanks to the funding going towards the research and improvements to the treatment given to premature babies and for this someone like my beautiful very happy little boy has been given the amazing gift of life.*

Adele Gordon-Simpson

Congratulations to a wonderful programme featured last night. Our daughter was born 19yrs ago at 22 weeks gestation. Her birth weight was 1lb and at 5 weeks she dropped to 14 and 1/2oz. Her Paten Duct was ligated, similar to the feature you made on little Matilda. She came home after 6 months of very intense therapy and remained on oxygen until she was almost 5yrs old. She has had compications on the way, having had two eye surgeries, and by the time she was 4yrs old she had had 3 open heart surgeries. She is a total inspiration to the dedicated work of the staff in the SCBU's up and down the country. She is now a beautiful young lady, but still requires regular follow-up by specialist. Her heart is currently stable, she does have problems with her sight and her hearing. but this does not deter her in getting on with her life and she actively working hard in her studies at University. I would have loved to have been part of this documentary and to prove that these tiny little babies should be given the chance to life. Once again well done with highlighting how fortunate our babies are in this country compared to others.There are not many surviving 22 weekers, but I have one and I thank all the staff who worked so hard to give my baby her life.


I am a parent of a child born at 25 weeks and I believe that it was wrong for your program to place any blame upon any parents. The real dilemma for you should have been what to include and who is likely to benefit from what you televise.
I had hoped that a BBC programme about 23 week babies questioning what is right and wrong would help educate people and increase awareness but to create a link with poverty and unhealthy lifestyles was I feel unnecessary.
I was on a Neonatal ward for 10 and 12-hour days everyday for 3 months, there were parents there from all walks of life and in my opinion any mother could give birth early without any obvious cause. In our case it was investigated and we were told that there was no explanation for my Wife to go into labour after only 25 weeks. The implications of our Son’s early arrival were explained to us and we were in a situation were we felt that we needed to make informed decisions without any previous medical training.
Education is an issue but how do we go about it without making people feel guilty or anxious about their pregnancy?
Quite often early births occur without any explanation so why was there a focus on poverty, poor education, health and a clip of a smoker? I believe that this should have not been included because I couldn’t see how this would help make an informed opinion of when medical intervention take place. This seemed irrelevant to me and perhaps we were looking to see whom to blame instead? I believe that this content was misleading and in need of clarification and I fail to see how this would help anyone to decide whether it is right or wrong to help a 23-week baby in any case. I think that early births can happen, parents will find ways to cope with their situation and by working together we will find solutions to problems as they arise.


after reading most of these comments, a lot of people are letting emotions get in the way. I agree with what Heather said in the programme, why spend so much money on a 23 week baby in intensive care if you are not going to provide the same level of care throughout their life. some people say you can't put a price on someone's life, but let's get real here-the NHS does not have an endless amount of money-and that's the reality of the situation. The reality is that commissioners have got to spend the money throughout the whole of the NHS and not just neonatal intensive care. why is there hardly any money invested in children with cerebral palsy due to prematurity and there is so much money in intensive care at the beginning of their birth? theres no point saying 'well my baby survived'. theres a lot more to it than that, Look at poor Heather who has suffered from depression as a result of her disability. you have to think outside the box and not just think about babies getting through intensive care. they have their whole life to live-and it's THEIR life, not the parents life.

Raymond Batkin

Great documentary.
I came in half way through so missed the chance to record it for paediatrician friends outside the UK.
Is it going to be repeated? If so, when and on what Channel?

Jeanette Newcombe

19 years ago, our baby daughter died aged 28 weeks premature. She lived for around a month in a special care unit and my husband and I watched by her cot as she went through many of the operations and pain and suffering described in the programme. We loved our daughter but I wish we had been strong, and detached, enough to make such a brave decision to not resucitate her and to enjoy the time we had together with her naturally, not with tubes all over her body and to suffer so. Well done for such a programme. I cried a lot but I agree with the sentiments expressed

Meghan Jackson

A fantastic and balanced documentary. Thank you. It was great to see a fair representation of some of the possible outcomes. As a midwife I have been at the delivery of babies born at 24 weeks and also suffered the heartache (not to the same extent as the parents, obviously) of hearing they had not survived.
It is heartbreaking but looking at it clinically I would not continue to resuscitate 23 weekers to save the 1% that survive unharmed. Money should not be a factor but it is and always will be and we cannot keep putting a strain on the NHS and expecting it to cope. As such I would (based on personal experience as a midwife and a limited knowledge of fetal development) only resuscitate my own baby if born after 25 weeks but who knows how I would feel if it actually happened to me.

Dr No

Excellent documentary.

The widespread venom elsewhere says more about the commenters than the program. Even the ambiguity in the title (Price? Monetary? Emotional? In Lives Offered and Lost? Of Normal Life?) passed them by.

Dr No picked up on a theme identified but not expanded on: how right is it to force decision-making on the parents, and to what extent. Too much to post here - see http://www.badmed.net/bad-medicine-blog/2011/03/ain-t-turning-no-machine.html.


To the people banging on about the disabilities that prem babies 'may' suffer from and their quality of life; if a full term baby were born with a severe disability would medical staff say ''it would be kinder to put the child to sleep'' No they bloody would not, because that would be killing a child for being simply less than perfect! A cull of our less than perfect society, I can't believe that a possibilty of disability should be a reason not to save a life.
I gave birth to twin boys at 23+4 in December 09 Theo weighed 1lb4oz and sadly died after a 13 hour fight. Luca weighed 1lb2oz and is now a 18lb11oz 15 month old. All we asked of the wonderful neonatal staff was that whilst our boys had fight in them, please help them.
We made the decision to stop Theos treatment, a decision that will haunt us for the rest of our lives, but we truly believed that he had given all he could.
Luca spent 9 months in hospital and has fought and fought, he is on minimal oxygen and slightly behind on his development all of which will impove over time. His biggest problem was Oesophageal Surgery resulting in the insertion of a PEG for feeding, this however was congenital meaning that it was unrelated to his prematurity and would have happened had he been full term, and I believe that had he been full term it would have taken a hell of a lot longer to diagnose.
I doubt that many of the posts on here sympathising with the documentary have been in or around the situation and I'm truly glad you haven't. But without intimate knowledge you really cannot comment.

Kim Brown

Hi Adam;

I would like to know if there is anyway that I can see this video in France?

christine petts

my daughter was born around 23 weeks almost 20 years ago weighing only 1lb 3oz
she would not have survived without major medical intervention thats true and after spending most of her life in and out of hospital, no doubt she's been expensive in terms of care
but no more perhaps than the smokers we meet at the chest clinic, the drunks we see in a&e or the morbidly obese in cardiology!
fortunately she does lead a near-normal life now with a little help from us and we wouldn't be without her


If the aim of this documentary was to raise awareness of prematurity and the issues that relate to it, it hit the target. It is good that somebody talks about the impact of prematurity because this subject is often overlooked or even neglected.
If the intention was to persuade people that it is not worth resuscitating 23 weeks gestation babies or the opposite, then the programme did not fulfil its task. There was not adequate information to decide in one sense or the other.
I am a mother of a premature boy. I met a lot of families of premature children in our nearly two months stay in the neonatal unit. The children were of different gestational age, of different weight at birth, they came from different backgrounds and they all responded differently to treatment.
Statistically, one can say that the older they become in gestation, the stronger the chance is that the outcome will be more positive.
But human life is so unpredictable that does not compromise with statistics and cannot be defined by it. Babies at 23 weeks can do very well and full term babies can have a lot of problems.
If medical knowledge is there, then it needs to be used to save babies lives, no matter the gestational age. The meaning of life cannot be rated by numbers. It is also true that some babies will definitely show when the time comes in which intervention needs to be withdrawn.
Another aspect. If one wants to rely on number, then it is fair to point out that determining the gestational age is not always possible and often it is not accurate.
Again about number. Statistics are often incorrect and life does not have a price and its meaning does not diminish in proportion to the number of disabilities one might develop.
I am in agreement with the point made by the consultant paediatrician who said that money needs to be invested in carrying on supporting these children when they grow up and are in need of therapies.

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