A full review of the screening process in Irish maternity hospitals has been called for after another shocking story published today revealed a woman considered abortion after the Rotunda wrongly diagnosed a number of anomalies.
The Irish Sun reported that “a pregnant woman was told by doctors her baby had a string of serious health problems only for the tot to be born healthy at another hospital.”
“Anguished Viktorija Avisane, 31, considered an abortion after getting the “devastating news” at Dublin’s Rotunda Hospital, admitting: ‘I could have killed a healthy baby’,” the paper reveals.
“I went to the Rotunda for my 20 week scan in September 2018. At the scan, they checked everything. And after the scan, they said can you come back tomorrow so I started asking was something wrong.
“They said before they explained everything, they have to make sure. So I went back and they said to me that can see anomalies.
“Liquid in the brain, they said they could see some shadows in the heart, his leg bones are too short and also his body is too small. So you can imagine how I felt. My mind was all over the place.
“Then another woman took me to another room. And she was with a folder and started explaining everything about the chromosomes, everything about abnormalities about all these things.
“And she said as well about an amniocentesis test and after this they can see if he has Down syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome or Patau’s syndrome.
But following the shocking scan results, the mum decided to get “a second opinion”, with medics at a hospital in her native Latvia and at Dublin’s Holles Street declaring everything was “fine”.
And her baby Alex was born healthy in Holles Street Hospital in the capital earlier this year and is now a happy seven-month-old.
Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute said serious questions now needed to be answered about the screening process in Irish maternity hospitals.
“Earlier this year we learned the shocking news that a baby was aborted in Holles Street, when parents were told that their baby had a ‘fatal abnormality’ and were advised not to wait for the result of a second test. Now we are hearing that another baby might also have been aborted because the Rotunda got the scan wrong,” the pro-life spokeswoman said.
“We need a full review of the screening process because clearly this is not just about technical issues with scans or errors in genetic testing. This is also about the attitude of medical staff, about how language is used to dehumanise very sick babies, and about how parents can be made to feel that abortion is the only option,” she said.
“We were told repeatedly in the referendum that cases like these would not arise, but they are happening,” she said.
Vicky Wall of Every Life Counts, an organisation supporting families where baby has a poor diagnosis in the womb, said that Ms Avisane’s experience was not an isolated one.
“We’ve repeatedly asked the HSE and medical professionals to review the language used when giving scan results, and to concentrate on informing rather than scaring parents. When I read cases like this, I really wonder what’s happening in our maternity hospitals. It’s heartbreaking to think that parents might be aborting their babies because they are getting an incorrect diagnosis or made to feel that no support exists,” she said.
“The Irish Sun is reporting this mum as saying the scan results were presented to her in a way she found “to be extremely upsetting and stressful”. I know a lot of families who have been in this situation can relate to that,” said Ms Wall.