Viability

Quality of Life and Viability, The Debate Continues

In the spirit of Flashback Friday I’m sharing a post from August 2013. An emotional post where I get on my soapbox and discuss viability. This is the topic I always come back to. It’s the topic I think about all the time. I had some discussions recently with a mom who’s son was born early, 22 weeks 6 days, and doctors didn’t try to help him. He was significantly bigger than James, and probably older gestationally. Would he have survived? No one can say, but I believe he deserved a chance.

I’ve been working with this mom on some information we’re going to mail to NICU Medical Directors across the country, hopefully next week. I know not all babies will survive. That is the heartbreaking reality of being born too soon. But I also know that gestational age is not an exact science. There is room for error. When a baby is born at 22w 6d, there is a very good possibility that their actual gestational age is over 23 weeks. My plea is for doctors to assess the baby, not just the number.

I’ll share the letter I’ve written to the NICU Medical Directors next week, after it’s official and we start getting them in the mail. Until then, here’s something to think about…

22w6d

I was getting ready to work on my blog, prepared to write about truly enjoying James’ third birthday without any of the anxiety that has come each year at this time, when I read End of Life, at Birth, an Op-Ed piece that appeared in The New York Times August 5th. The author, April R. Dworetz, is a neonatologist and an assistant professor of pediatrics, specializing in neonatology, at Emory University. After I read her piece and the comments that followed my plans changed.

Overall I agree with Dr. Dworetz, more information and more discussion with parents who have babies in the NICU will lead to more thoughtful decision-making. Parents need to be well-informed throughout their baby’s NICU stay. Just as in any other critical situation involving a loved one, you need to know what you’re up against, and what outcomes are possible. Part of that burden falls on the doctors caring for the baby, and part of that burden falls on…

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