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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 September 2004, 18:01 GMT 19:01 UK
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Your comments on the Miracle Baby Grows Up programme.

Due to the high number of e-mails we get we cannot guarantee to publish every single message we receive, however the e-mails published will reflect the balance of opinion. We may also edit some e-mails for legal reasons and for purposes of clarity and length.

The views expressed on these pages are not necessarily the views of the BBC. The e-mails published will be reflective of the balance of opinion received.


I believe very strongly that children with a learning disability have the same right to life as all other children. As such, doctors should strive to sustain life, even in cases of extremely premature babies. We should never lose sight of the fact that it is society┐s obligation that all its children should be nurtured, regardless of their vulnerability.

We need to meet this growing number of premature babies with positive, practical solutions. Currently, many families will not have a formal diagnosis for their child beyond ┐very low birth weight┐. However, early diagnosis and early intervention to support a child┐s development, particularly in the first two years, can make a world of difference.

Mencap has been commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills to undertake a feasibility study around establishing a National Centre for Early Intervention. The issues raised in this Panorama programme highlight the need for a National Centre as a source of help for these families.
Jo Williams, Mencap's chief executive, London

I found the programme very informative and touching from a personal point of view.

Coincidentally, I too gave birth to a very premature baby girl in December 1995 - in South Africa. I had previously gone into labour at 21 weeks gestation, due to my 'waters' having broken and been completely depleted. However, by some miracle the 'water' refilled and with complete bedrest managed a further 3 weeks.

Due to infection and fever the waters broke again and labour was brought-on. Rebecca, was born on 18th November 1995 weighing just 710gms. She was given less than a 5 per cent chance of survival and thus was Baptised immediately. She fought so hard and after 24 hours of basic care was put on full neo-natal intensive care. It has to be mention, that due to there being no National Health in South Africa - when such babies are born the parents are asked if they can afford this extensive and highly costly care lasting for months.

Inspite of having a very difficult and painfull time in hospital, Rebecca lived for three weeks, which was quite remarkable. She touched the lives of so many people with her feisty personality that shone through and her determination.

We are however aware that if she had survived her chances of a 'normal' live would have been significantly small (as was seen last night on the programme). In Rebecca's, case we feel that it was best for her to have only been with us for such a short yet wonderful time.

She is and always will remain part of our lives and my children continously talk about her. She brings a smile to our faces as she was so special. Thank you for the opportunity for me to share this, for the first time publically.
Katharine Wilson, Swansea, Wales

The programme was wonderful - sensitive and informative. I teach developmental psychology, and brought the programme to the attention of my students in advance. We will use the programme as a basis for discussion at many points throughout the coming year. The dignity and commitment of the families and the professionals were inspirational, and the children were a true miracle. Thank you.
Maeve Martin, Virginia, Ireland

What right does the programme have to suggest if you are learning disabled you are better off dead
Alex, Essex
I found the programme offensive. Maybe research should go into why 40% of these babies have disabilities, rather than saying we give up. They didn't really talk about the fact that neonatal care has advanced. From having my first baby at 26 weeks eight and a half years ago to my middle child born at 27 weeks, technology had changed. Maybe the authors of the report who think babies shouldn't be resuscitated at below 25 weeks should change jobs as obviously they do not think these babies deserve to live. Secondly, what right does the programme have to suggest if you are learning disabled you are better off dead. Just because they don't fit into the majority of children doesn't mean they deserve to die.
Alex, Essex, UK

I would just like to say that I am only 18 but I had a little girl in December last year and if she was born prematurely I would like doctors to do everything they could to save her because it would not be fair to let her die if she was breathing. She would have a right to live just like anyone else has the right to live. Just because a baby is premature doesn't mean that other people have the right to let them die.
Michelle, Dumbarton, Scotland

I was born in 1986 at 30 weeks, weighing just four pounds, and spent a very long time in special care, and was readmitted several times in the first year of my life. I still suffer with slight learning difficulties and motor control. But I am now training at Norland college and have overcome all my previous problems, thanks to everyone who fought for my life. I just want to thank everyone who works in special care and Panorama for putting together such a well documented programme, I do feel however more of the positive could have been showed.
Christina Axton, Bath

Last night's show was very hard to watch. My son was born at 24 weeks, three days and survived for 28 days before his rapid deterioration saw us having to withdraw support. That was three years ago but it still feels like yesterday. I hope a lot of people now realise the anguish and agony parents go through when this happens, as we found family members unsupporting in our grief with comments such as "you can always try again" and "it's been a year now you should be over it by now".

The programme slightly eased my fears over our decision as our son had severe brain damage but we will always be grateful for the hospital staff at Chertsey for giving our son a chance to live we will always be proud of him and never forget him. God bless.
Adam Steppings, London, England

Thanks you so much for your time and effort in the making of this programme. My wife and I had a baby boy just over a year ago born at 28 weeks gestation. This programme gives our friends and family an insight into the similar harrowing experience we went through every day for three months, off ventilator, blood transfusions, off CPAP, on CPAP, shadow on the brain, grainy patches on the lungs, infections, ROP, etc.

At the time you get through it, but looking at this programme last night opened wounds like a hot knife through butter. Although our boy is doing well now, there are still some unknowns, but I really feel for some of the people featured last night who were less fortunate. From our experience I have learned to never underestimate the power of the human spirit. Even with really premature babies, there is hope and they deserve a chance.
John, Drogheda, Ireland

As a neonatal nurse I felt that the programme was very fair, showing the full spectrum of possible outcomes. The consultant interviewed, Dr Marlow hit the nail on the head when he said that what might be a good outcome for one family might be a bad one for another. The skill in nursing these little babies is in developing relationships with the family and helping them to understand what the outcome might be and trying to judge how they might cope with that. Some families want their baby whatever, others recognise that it takes a lot of care and dedication to have a disabled child, and they must all be respected for making any decision in the terrible situation which they are in.
Sally, Midlands, UK

I am a mum of two and my son was born in February of this year at 28 wks gestation. It was a very hard worrying time but got through it. He is now seven months old and weighs 13lb. He has chronic lung disease and a hole in the heart and had a slight bleed on the brain. He is a beautiful happy child and I wouldn't be without him. What the future holds I do not know but he made it and I'm grateful for that.
Nina, Manchester UK

My eldest child was born at 33 weeks weighing 2lb 14oz. Now at the age of 13 she struggles quite a bit at school - doesn't quite get the concept of schoolwork and is very immature. I have always had strong feelings this was partly due to her being prem. The programme tonight confirmed that for me. I have mixed feelings about the programme. Sometimes i felt it was rather negative. A life is a life no matter what.
Tracy Lamb, York

It is not often that a programme moves me to write, but tonight's Panorama did. We have seven year old twins who were born at 25 weeks and are now both physically and mentally equal with their peers. They are my little miracles and programmes like yours make me feel grateful every day that they have no problems.
Karen Drabble, Devizes, England

My brother was born at 23 weeks and was given 48 hours to live. In an incubator for 4 months and a hernia when he was 7 months, it proved to be a difficult time. Two years on he is small for his age but on the whole healthy and alert. You could never have predicted. Life should always be given a chance if the parents want it because you never can tell - that is why he is the greatest miracle. The Holland system smacks of a lack of respect for the miracle of life.
Tejas Patel, Coventry, England

Surely no one has the right to decide who lives and dies. We are not god
June Ford
I was moved by your programme tonight. I was actually born three months premature 50 years ago, weighing 2lb 10 ounces. I was in an incubator. Returning home I wore doll's clothes and was fed by a miniature vinegar bottle. Surely no one has the right to decide who lives and dies. We are not god. Are we trying to have the perfect race?.
June Ford, Stanley, England

It is good to see BBC journalism thriving after the Hutton inquiry. Here we have a specialist area requiring great finance from the government, which due to its cost the government wants to curtail and the BBC delivers the perfect piece of propaganda. I wonder who won the battle of control earlier this year? For the record I have a younger brother and sister thanks to the premature baby unit at Hammersmith Hospital. Born unbelievably in the dark days of the 1980's yet they are fine, well and thriving. Imagine that.
Bob, Nottingham

As a registered nurse for learning disabilities, I watched tonight's programme with interest. I am concerned about views expressed which question the quality of life for people with learning disabilities. I work with many people who have a different life experience and would not judge that quality. I acknowledge that life can be hard with disabilities. However, life can be hard for those without disabilities too. Denying life-giving treatment on the grounds of possible disability later in life boils down to eugenics and I do not believe that a modern society should promote this kind of discrimination. Instead, social policy needs to be developed to provide the supports required by its citizens.
Sheena Miller, Huddersfield, UK

My daughter was born at 26 weeks in 1971. She was absolutely fine with no apparent physical or mental disabilities until adolescence when behavioural problems manifested which were ultimately diagnosed as Borderline Personality Disorder caused by the trauma of her birth and the 'abandonment' situation of having to spend the first three months of her life in the hospital. I wonder how many other premature babies have been or will be diagnosed with BPD? Or whether in fact this probability has even been taken into account?
Carole Dolphin, UK

I watched your programme last night on premature babies, It was so heart rending. All those children are survivors, and to the parents of those children you are all stars. I lost a baby at 20 weeks, then fell pregnant again and had a little boy Dean at 31 weeks. He has Tourettes syndrome and AD-HD. I then had another little boy Josh in November 2000. He was three weeks early, and he has been diagnosed with Global Delay. But again like all the families on your programme I would not change my boys for two normal children.
Lorna, East Sussex

My son was born in 1992 at 24 weeks. He is now a healthy 12 year old. He has just caught up and overtaken his peers in education. He is loving, caring and sensitive, plays golf, skis and is an avid reader (can not read enough!). We have moved out to France last year and he now speaks fluent French and is in a French school. If all countries had the attitude of Holland he would not be alive and it would be a great loss to so many people. Where do you draw the line? Assess all babies with any disabilities - limbs missing etc as they all put a strain on finances and families?
Jenny Mackenzie, Salerm, France

I came away from this programme with the overwhelming feeling that the next step should be to research why 40% of extreme pre-term babies have physical and/or learning disabilities - and then to explore how to reduce this percentage.
John Matthews, St Ives, UK

Great programme. I am the mum of two premature babies both 28 weeks in the 80's. One was and is absolutely fine, pulling through the six months of intensive care without any problems. The other had terrible problems at birth and came out with severe problems, but both are wonderful in their own rights. I am going to be a grandma and after watching your programme it has made me realise and remember how special my two prems are. Thank you.
Angela, Lancashire, UK

I have just finished watching your latest Panorama feature on miracle babies and I was so moved by the research shown. I felt that I needed to respond and just say how thankful I am to have seen how honestly and coherently you had set forth the information. The evidence was unnerving at times and extremely emotional. As a young women myself and one hoping to babies in the future, it helped me to become more aware of the thought and responsibility that would be needed before considering conceiving a child. I am sure that all if not most of the mothers shown would have benefited from such a documentary before they decided upon having children of their own. I only hope that when my own turn comes (God willing) that the sort of counselling and information you have shown in this programme is readily available.
Kate Iles, England

A really moving, incredibly interesting and well-made programme. I don't yet have children of my own, and cannot imagine how I would cope in the situation of having an incredibly premature baby. The strength shown by the parents, and by those whose children unfortunately lost their battle for life, is a real lesson for us all. I don't know how we can make a blanket assessment of which babies do and do not deserve saving, but I think Ian's thanks for being given the chance to live says it all. What right do any of us have to destroy what could be a wonderful live?
Rebecca, Exeter

Just watched your great programme. To give hope - I would like to say, I was born at 26 weeks at National Maternity in Dublin, Ireland in 1981. I have completed a B.A. in Business Studies, and just completed my Masters in Tourism Management this month. I am so grateful that so many doctors and nurses worked so hard to give me the quality of life I now enjoy. Has any research been done on those like me who have achieved so much? God does have a hand in everything if only we ask.
Hugo Clarke, Dublin, Ireland

Sometimes death is a better option and accepting this fact should not be viewed as failure.
Radhika Hillier
Our son Jonathan was born at 25 weeks in June this year weighing 610grams. His actual due date was last week. He received the best medical treatment available at both New Cross and Great Ormond Street where he was treated for a life threatening bowel infection which eventually took him from us at 15 days. Had he survived there is no way of telling how he would have developed but I know that his tiny body endured and suffered highly invasive procedures including cannulas in his forehead and hourly blood tests in the soles of his feet. On that basis alone I believe that Dr Levene is right to pursue this research and follow up on care and welfare of these children. Sometimes death is a better option and accepting this fact should not be viewed as failure.
Radhika Hillier, Dartford, Kent

I have just watched the programme concerning premature babies and am deeply offended. I myself was born at 24 weeks gestation in 1987 and have no learning or physical disabilities. I realise that there is a high risk of death in the birth of very premature babies and the outcomes of this can be very upsetting as shown in the programme but there are success stories and happy outcomes and I feel that this was not represented at all. Surely you need to give people some hope, or are you trying to take everything away from parents of newly born premature babies? I fully comprehend the undertone that the care system does not back up the medical advances made in saving premature babies. However, I feel you need to show the real picture even if the survivors are "miracle babies".
Zoe Bullock, Hemel Hempstead, Herts

I watched this programme as my cousin Megan Turner featured in it, there were only pictures of her though. I was very moved by this as I didn't realise just how common premature births are. I am very proud of Megan and her sisters and also of her parents. She has grown up to be a lovely young girl living a life we all didn't know that she could. This programme has opened my eyes to Miracle Babies. I certainly believe there are miracle babies and my cousin Megan Turner is definitely one of them.
Rachael Hooper, Bristol, UK

I watched your programme on premature babies. I also had a baby at 25 weeks at St George's Hospital, Tooting in 1995. She has also taken part in the Epicure study. Although I can relate to some of the problems premature babies have I do not think anyone has the right to say that they are any different from any other child. I will also say that my child does not get extra help from the education office for the delay in her educational development as she has been turned down. The school she attends is a mainstream school and the staff have been brilliant. My daughter is now nine and is a very determined little girl. Thank you for bringing this subject to light and making others realise the difficulties that can occur.
Wendy Scott, Lingfield, Surrey

My daughter Sally was born at 27 weeks, with a collapsed lung, I was warned she may not last the night. She is now 11 and in a mainstream school, with learning support. Her learning has been described as a delay not a disability, and watching the programme makes me feel very lucky. However, I feel it would have been nice to show more of the 'success stories' as well as just the one exception. It is a very emotional time, which never really leaves you, and I feel that as well as the justified facts some encouraging outcomes would have been nice to see.
Ruth Ellis-Williams, Aberystwyth, Wales

Good luck to all the parents involved in tonight's documentary and to their children
Debbie Davidson
I miscarried at 12 weeks and thought that was bad enough, but to know my baby couldn't have survived until 24 weeks is a big comfort to me. I was totally moved by Panorama tonight. I saw things from a mother's point of view and a medical one and it must be such a hard decision to make especially when you see such a beautiful girl as Layla grow up with no problems. Good luck to all the parents involved in tonight's documentary and to their children.
Debbie Davidson, Hertfordshire

My son was born in 1999 at 23 weeks and 2 days gestation. He is now a healthy 5-year-old and has just started mainstream school. Admittedly he does have mild cerebral palsy which means his walking is impaired, but I would not have even considered not allowing intensive care when he was born and how the Dutch can take such an approach is beyond me.
James Holding, Stevenage, UK

As the father of a 24 week prem baby I took great interest in your programme this evening. Not all instances are "disasters". We were told at the outset that we had to make the best of our time together and now two and a half years later we are still doing so. We were lucky in that he has passed all his development tests with flying colours and he is known at the Hammersmith hospital as the miracle baby. Your programme clearly showed that not enough support is being given to parents when prem babies are born and we can only hope that this viewing will make people more aware of what we are put through, mentally and physically. When our son was born I was going through a battle with heart disease and sometimes we were in the same hospital at the same time. We have both triumphed in the end.
Andrew Martin, Surbiton, Surrey, UK

I was born at 25 weeks in 1985, I walked at 13 months, I was very alert in the early stages. At school I was ahead of my classmates at reading, writing and art. Other than having a paralysed vocal chord due to nerve damage after a heart op at 1 month of age, which means I talk quietly. I have no problems mentally or physically.
Alex Holt, Solihull

I found the attitudes, not of the participants, but of the programme makers shocking and offensive. The film only made one point throughout: if you're disabled, you're better off dead. Every opportunity to portray disabled people in a positive light was missed. Why was the final 'miracle baby' fully able? Why couldn't the child with mild learning difficulties be given that title? Who is to judge that his life is any less? He may have a far more fulfilled, happier and contributing to society life than his able peer. That possibility was never admitted. I was shocked because I thought the attitudes expressed by the filmmakers were on the way out. Relying on them undermined their argument. Personally, I support the Dutch position of not resuscitating before 25 weeks. But I do not support it, as the filmmakers do, because I think a disabled life is of less worth.
Deborah Birkett, London, England

I thought the programme was unbalanced and could affect the decision parents make during an extremely stressful time. I have two miracle children, one born at 27 weeks and the other at 24 weeks. Both are extremely bright and have no problems at school or socially. You could say we were lucky, but at least we had the chance to find out.
Peter Cox, Leicester, England

My daughter Bethany was born at 25 weeks and is now five. She has cerebral palsy and is profoundly deaf but is a joy to all who know her. My argument has always been, if society provides the medical care to help premature babies survive, knowing the possible outcome of disability; then society should be prepared to give the best care to the children that do end up with severe disability. This doesn't happen because it isn't a miracle to provide a child with a decent wheelchair or a potty chair, the miracle ends when you leave the neonatal unit. You then become a warrior for your child, fighting for the smallest of things for them that society questions. Society did not question keeping the child alive. The balance of care needs to be addressed and someone needs to provide or help to provide the proper care that these children deserve.
Lisa Davies, Derby

I am currently at college working on a nursing access course to apply to Uni for Midwifery. I found the programme really interesting and informative. The way the programme was laid out was very easy to understand. Congratulations to the team for a brilliant programme.
Charlotte Leys, England

I must say it was a really interesting programme. Having had my daughter Lyra in June 1995 at 33 weeks, my husband and I thought she was a miracle - but these children most certainly are. A life is a life, each should be given their chance to survive, keep up the good work.
Suzanne Esfahani, Cambs

I am a mum. Both of my children were born early (6 weeks and 2 weeks). My daughter (6 weeks early) has learning difficulties. After watching the programme tonight I must say that if I was in that position I would let nature take its course. If the child couldn't breathe for itself then I would let it die. I'm glad I watched your programme. If I was in that situation I would have asked them to try everything but I know I can't cope with a child with learning difficulties. I recommend that you show it again so that more people can be told the truth and open their eyes to reality around us. Papers have glorified these babies and kept us from the cruel harsh reality of it all.
Emma Paine, Hertfordshire

I would just like to say that I was born premature, I was born three months premature and have no disabilities mentally or physically. I was born in 1986 and I am currently in my last year of sixth form and hope to go on to university. So not all children that are premature (born between 23 - 26 weeks) are handicapped. I thought I would just contact you to say how I feel.
Catherine, UK

It may sound bad, but if I had known what it would be like when my daughter was born, I would have said let her go.
Michael
A good programme, but failed to highlight what goes on in the real world, once these babies leave hospital. I am a single parent (father) and have a disabled daughter, my wife/her mother left us when she was 10. She is now 17. This year is the first year I have been able to get any help from Social Services, and that turned out to be no good either, so unless society is prepared to help look after these children, parents should be warned, that if they have that baby, their life will change and they will never have a harder job.

It may sound bad, but if I had known what it would be like when my daughter was born, I would have said let her go. Please don't get me wrong, I love her so much, and would not do without her today, but life under normal circumstances is hard, try it with a disabled child.
Michael, Essex

What a fantastic programme, I felt that it gave an excellent view of the problems facing both parents and the medical profession when dealing with such premature babies. My Mum is a neonatal nurse and the care and expertise that both herself and co workers have for these children is excellent. However, seeing the pain and anguish on the faces of the parents left to cope with severely impaired children most definitely has made me think whether or not I would wish a child of mine to be resuscitated if it was born prior to 25 weeks.
Melanie Mills, Ashton-In-Makerfield

I'm a recently qualified paediatric nurse, I've worked in neonatal intensive care levels 1, 2 and 3, on wards where these kids are often re-admitted with respiratory problems, and in the community, looking after oxygen dependent babies. I thought your programme tonight was extremely fair, realistic, and informative for the general population who for the most part don't realise anything beyond the emotive media headlines. Thank you
Linzi Thorpe, London

I would like to say how touching and moving this programme was. My son was born in 1999 at 31 weeks even though there is nothing wrong with him and he is now a healthy and very active little boy who is a great pleasure to us our hearts go out to all the families concerned. It brought back all the memories and the heartache we went through when he was in the baby care unit. Fantastic Programme. thanks.
Miss Trina Merry, Derbyshire, UK

What a powerful programme. I am 24 years old, I have no children, but this touched me to the core. Such a difficult topic, and how wonderful were all those involved in the programme. This is one of those tough areas where no amount of research or opinion will ever give a concrete answer. Life is unpredictable...perhaps it is worth remembering that many of these families and children would have no choice at all if not for the seriously hard work and devotion of so many throughout the years. Is it right or wrong to resuscitate these babies? I honestly don't think there is a clear answer. We as a society can only do our best and hope it is good enough.
Beth Morgan, London

I was a so-called miracle baby, born in 1970. I have no doubt that my premature birth profoundly affected the way I am. Over the years I've faced both joy and pain. I'm pleased I was allowed to live.
Ian, London, UK



SEE ALSO
Miracle baby grows up
17 Sep 04 |  Panorama
Advice and information
21 Sep 04 |  Panorama
The debate: Dr Malcolm Levene
22 Sep 04 |  Panorama
The debate: Dr Neil Marlow
22 Sep 04 |  Panorama
The Dutch policy
22 Sep 04 |  Panorama
Premature babies - the facts
22 Sep 04 |  Panorama
Waiting for a miracle
17 Sep 04 |  Panorama
What is the EPICure Study?
22 Sep 04 |  Panorama
The EPICure children
22 Sep 04 |  Panorama
Isaac Bason
22 Sep 04 |  Panorama
Thomas Rice
22 Sep 04 |  Panorama
Bright Asamany
22 Sep 04 |  Panorama
Emily Wright
22 Sep 04 |  Panorama


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