Magazine article The Quill

Feature Reporting-Television

Magazine article The Quill

Feature Reporting-Television

Article excerpt

Network/Top 40 Markets

Bob Abernethy, Arnold Labaton, Marcia Henning and Mary Alice Williams

Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

Premature Babies

The benefits of medical technology are praised so often that sometimes the drawbacks are ignored.

Mary Alice Williams, a reporter for Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, examined the agony experienced by parents of children who were born so premature that they now face a lifetime of medical dependency with severe mental and physical disabilities.

On one side of the issue, a doctor asks bluntly, "What do I do? Let them die?" On the other, observers claim some methods are nothing more than abuse. To them, although the technology can save children, the treatments amount to a life sentence.

WILLIAMS: Karla Miller and her husband Mark have suffered sadness. At only 22 weeks, only a little more than halfway through a normal pregnancy, Karla gave birth to Sidney.

Babies born at 22 or 23 weeks at weights of one pound or less can sometimes be saved, but their condition can be devastating; up to 80 percent suffering from mild to severe disabilities.

Sidney was just over a pound at birth; she was blue, the size of a Beanie Baby. Knowing Sidney's prognosis, Karla and her husband told doctors not to resuscitate the baby. The hospital stuck by its policy: Any infant weighing more than one pound would be resuscitated regardless of the parents' decision.

Ms. MILLER: We told them, 'Please don't do that, because you just told us that she would have - suffer brain hemorrhages, chronic lung disease, blindness, mental - all these things. …

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