Nurse Joan S. Smith tells the following story:
“It was a night I’ll never forget. It was 11 pm and my colleague Karen and I “scrubbed in” at the beginning of our shift in the Special Care Nursery of a large teaching hospital….Without warning, a harried nurse rushed into the doorway.
Her white uniform seemed out of place in the area of the hospital where only surgical scrubs are worn. “Here, take this,” she said, thrusting into my hands a small silver specimen pan covered with a paper towel.
“What is it?” I asked, realizing by the look on her face that something was very wrong.
“It’s an abortion at 22 weeks gestation, delivered on our floor. But it’s alive,” she explained, then turned on her heel and was gone. I removed the paper towel to see the perfectly formed body of a baby boy curled up in the cold metal pan….Karen came over to help. “This happens every so often,” she explained sadly. She had trained at the hospital and worked there for over 15 years.
[After a doctor Joan called simply told her to do nothing but fill in the time of death for the baby] Stoking his tiny arm, I tried to sort out my jumble of emotions. I felt powerless, angy, and overwhelmed by sadness. How could our medical system be so full of ironies? Here I was surrounded by medical technology, which was of no avail to this tiny child. I wondered if the parents even were told that their son had been admitted to the hospital as a live birth with footprints taken, and identification number and band given, a physician notified of his birth- yet all of this merely an unpredicted complication of a routine abortion. It took nearly four hours until that tiny heart slowed to a stop. With tears in my eyes, I wrapped his body for the morgue. This was all of a life this child would ever know. He would never know the warmth of a mother’s embrace. No one would ever celebrate his birth. He would never even be given a name.
This child, named Kelly, was born at 21 weeks and survived. She is pictured here at one week younger than the baby Joan held.
Source: Joan E. Smith “To Live or Let Die” Easton Publishing Company, 1991Share on Facebook