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Life in SCBU...such memories!

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Anne Diamond | 12:20 UK time, Thursday, 10 March 2011

Anne Diamond with Alison White beside her babies on the Buscot ward at the Royal Berkshire hospital

Twenty years ago to this very day, I was a frightened mum in a Special Care Baby Unit. My son Sebastian was born 20 years ago yesterday, four weeks early. His breathing was tortured and I was scared he wouldn't make it to the next day. But he grew slowly and steadily and, after two weeks, he came home.

Babies who come into the world too early live their lives on a knife edge. It's a matter of survival to the next day. For the parents, the anguish is tangible - and I could feel it in the plight of the parents I met at the Buscot Ward at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, where they regularly fight for the lives of children born at 23 weeks. Here in the picture I'm with mum Alison White and we're standing in between two incubators containing Arthur and Eleanor, who are still doing well. I also met one little girl called Olivia who weighed just 600 grammes when she was born at 24 weeks - she's still there, six weeks on, still fighting to make it through the next 24 hours, day by day.

Last night, I was fascinated by the BBC 2 documentary which posed the question whether it was actually moral and right to pour thousands of pounds, and hundreds of man-hours into prolonging the life of tiny babies who will probably die anyway. So very few ever make it home, and even fewer make it into adulthood without profound disability.

But, having been a mum myself in a SCBU, I don't know you could ever possibly take the decision NOT to fight for life, whatever the consequences. The documentary argued that the decision should not be taken by parents, but by the consultant in charge. But is that fair? If you're a doctor who can prolong that little life, how can you go against all of your training to withhold your expertise?

I just don't know. I cried almost all the way through the programme, it brought back so many memories. Love to all at the Buscot Ward, and prayers that those babies make it through another night.


  • Comment number 1.

    It was wonderful to listen to your interview with Alison White - I am in the north east of Scotland and have been following the babies' progress via my brother who lives in Cippenham. So happy that Arthur and Eleanor are continuing to do well.

    Jean Murray


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