Surgery to abort an unhealthy baby to save the life of its stronger twin went horribly wrong when doctors at a Birmingham hospital botched the operation and the healthy infant was terminated
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A mother was told her healthy baby had been terminated by accident in a botched operation to save its life.
The horrific mix-up happened during a surgery to abort an unhealthy baby in order to save the life of its healthier sibling at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.
The unthinkable tragedy was just one of 700 blunders across NHS hospitals in England that have resulted in a fatality.
One of the twins was found to be suffering from restrictive growth, meaning it had not formed in the womb properly.
The condition raises the chance of stillbirth and puts the healthier baby in harm’s way.
So a decision was made to abort the sick infant in the hopes of bringing the stronger child to full term.
But, shockingly, surgeons terminated the wrong baby and they both died.
A report on the 700 deaths, including the twins, was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act application made by the Sunday Express.
The fatalities were caused by several “basic errors”, including patients falling off trolleys, early discharges, or being given the wrong test or medication.
One patient at risk from deep vein thrombosis (DVT) died after staff at Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Trust failed to provide anti-embolism stockings, which help prevent the condition after surgery.
Staff at the A&E at West Suffolk NHS Trust assumed one patient had the flu but discovered it was a far more severe condition – sepsis – after they died, the report says.
Another patient died after their oxygen tank was moved by mistake at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.
After one botched surgery a patient at the North Bristol NHS Trust died because the incorrect part of their bowel was diverted to their tummy for a colostomy bag fitting.
Dr Fiona Reynolds, chief medical officer at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Trust, blamed the shocking case of the twins on a “fatal error”.
She said: “Sadly, during a highly specialised fetal procedure in 2019 that involved operating within the womb to separate and potentially save the life of a single twin that shared a placenta, a fatal error occurred.
“A full and comprehensive investigation was carried out swiftly after this tragic case and the findings were shared with the family, along with our sincere apologies and condolences.
“The outcome of that thorough review has led to a new protocol being developed to decrease the likelihood of such an incident happening again.”
A spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists explained the condition the struggling twin had is one that is seen in around 10 to 20 per cent of pregnancies involving twins.
It often happens when “one of the babies does not receive enough nourishment through the placenta to grow at a normal rate.”
He said: “In the most serious cases, selective termination can improve the survival chances of the normally grown fetus at the expense of the severely growth-restricted co-twin.”
The procedures “carry an increased risk of early or total pregnancy loss”, he added.
“Parents who undergo selective terminations of twin pregnancies face agonising decisions and report feelings of anxiety, stress and emotional trauma.
“They must be supported by their clinical team both during and after their pregnancy.”