Will's story -- born at 22 weeks, now top of class
LONDON (Reuters) - Liz Goddard's son Will, now a thriving 10-year-old, was born in 1998 just 22 weeks and 3 days after conception. She believes he is the most premature baby to have survived in Britain.
As Britain marks the 40th anniversary of the enactment of its Abortion Act, which currently allows abortions of healthy foetuses up to 24 weeks after gestation, Goddard wants her son's story to be heard. She says she supports abortion rights in principle, but wants the time limit of 24 weeks reduced to 20.
Here is Will's story, in his mother's words:
"Will was born at 22 weeks and three days and because he was so early, the hospital where he was born said they couldn't treat him because he was just so early that he wouldn't survive.
"They gave him to me and the registrar came to look at him and said he would be alive for about 10 minutes, if that, so all we could do was to hold him and cuddle him and make the best we could with that time.
"They didn't actively treat him, but he didn't die. He was about 36 hours old when he started showing signs of weakening. At that point the hospital special-care doctors and nurses got together and had a meeting and decided that they would offer him treatment.
"They explained to me that it was highly unlikely that he was going to survive, that if he did survive he was 95 percent likely to be disabled or have severe difficulties, but it was my choice and they would begin treating him if I wanted them to, which of course I did.
"So they began to feed him like any other premature baby.
"Four months later he was discharged from hospital, he was breastfeeding, he was on oxygen at home for quite a while.
"And now he is 10 years old, he is completely normal -- he is at the top end of his class academically -- and he's not even the shortest in his class any more. To look at him you wouldn't know that he was any different.
"My point of view is that he was born at 22 weeks which is still within the abortion limit -- and other babies who are aborted at that stage are just left in sluice rooms and if they are born alive they are just going to die.
"Those babies potentially can grow up into normal young children and young people.
"The law needs to be changed now down to 20 weeks because ... the limits of viability have changed."
(Reporting by Kate Kelland. Editing by Sara Ledwith)
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