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On the death of a baby.
  1. R Stinson,
  2. P Stinson

    Abstract

    Andrew was a desperately premature baby weighing under two pounds. He died after months of "heroic' efforts in an intensive care facility. The story of his short cruel institutionalised life is a case study in the limits and excesses of modern medicine. The night he told us our son Andrew was about to die the doctor who had taken charge of him six months before also told us we were "intellectually tight' that we had "no feelings only thoughts and words and strategies'. We were "bad parents'. As the parents of a five-year-old daughter we knew the love a mother and father feels for children. Yet as Andrew's parents we were used to condemnation and insult. Andrew was a baby born 15 weeks prematurely weighing only 1lb 12oz and in a state of painful deterioration almost from the start. We wanted him to be allowed to die a natural death. Andrew's story is the story of what can happen when a baby becomes hopelessly entrapped in an intensive care unit where the machinery is more sophisticated than the code of law and ethics governing its use. The letter printed below was sent to the administrator and numerous personnel of the hospital that controlled the life and death of our son. The physician-in-chief of that hospital characterised it as a "carefully documented critique'. The letter appear here somewhat edited and abridged and the names of people and institutions have been changed all but our own. It is the personal record of what happened to our baby and to us.

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