Friday, August 11, 2006


But what an incredible survivor the baby is!

A health board has launched an investigation after a mother underwent an operation to remove her "dead" unborn baby only to be told three weeks later that she was still pregnant. Julie Brown, 28, is considering legal action against hospital directors after she was informed wrongly that her baby had died and was given an operation under general anaesthetic to remove the child.

Mrs Brown, from Livingston in West Lothian, said yesterday that she was given a scan five and a half weeks into her pregnancy after suffering from stomach pains. She was told by medical staff that the baby's heartbeat could not be found and that the child had died inside her. The next day she checked into St John's Hospital, in Livingston, for dilation and curettage treatment to remove the dead child, a highly invasive procedure that involves scraping the uterus lining.

She said that her husband and two children had been devastated when they were told that the baby had died, especially her eight-year-old daughter. Mrs Brown, who had already suffered two miscarriages, said: "I had to explain to my two kids and my husband that the baby had died and they were in floods of tears. "Sarah was distraught because she was so much looking forward to having a baby brother or sister to look after."

However, last week Mrs Brown went to see her GP because she was still suffering from sickness and other symptoms of pregnancy. Blood tests showed that pregnancy hormone levels were still very high and she was sent to hospital for a scan this week. She said: "A scan on Monday showed my baby was still intact and growing healthily. I was confused, angry, worried and elated all at the same time." Mrs Brown, who is now nine weeks pregnant, said that she was considering legal action against NHS Lothian. "The hospital has given me no reasons or answers, they have told me absolutely nothing. I don't know how it has happened," she said. She added that she was worried because pregnant women should not be given a general anaesthetic or undergo surgery that could damage the foetus. "I will be constantly worrying until I give birth to the baby and see that it is all right because I have been given a general anesthetic, painkillers and antibiotics," she said.

Mrs Brown's husband, Dan, 28, said: "It's ridiculous that something like this can happen. It's going to be a difficult time but I'm sure we will get through it." He added: "I just don't know how this could have happened with such a violent and intrusive operation."

NHS Lothian apologised to Mrs Brown over the mistake yesterday and said that it had started an investigation. Mike Grieve, the director of operations at St John's Hospital, said: "I immediately wish to apologise for any distress to Mrs Brown and her family. "We have not yet received a formal complaint but an informal investigation was launched as soon as her case was brought to my attention." He added: "It would be inappropriate of me to comment on the specific circumstances while this is taking place."


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