My baby wasn’t lazy – he was dying’: Mother blasts hospital that dismissed her concern about lifeless baby scans and ignored her request for tests 22 times
A grieving mother is taking legal action after hospital staff branded her unborn son ‘lazy’ – when he actually suffering from a rare genetic condition that had paralysed his limbs.
Lucy Copland, 27, was told by a sonographer that her baby did not move during scans simply because he was ‘lazy’.
But the distraught mother-of-three refused to accept that theory and demanded further tests – which finally revealed her unborn son had a rare muscular and skeletal disorder that meant he could not move his arms or legs.
He died just hours after birth several weeks later.
Mrs Copland said: ‘It’s disgusting. They kept saying my baby was just a “lazy boy”, when in fact he was seriously ill. The poor little mite wasn’t lazy. He couldn’t move because his limbs were fused solid.
‘I kept telling them something was wrong because I hadn’t felt any kicks at all, but they wouldn’t listen. As far as they were concerned he was just lazy and I was made to feel like a paranoid mum.
‘When we finally found out what was wrong with Alfie I felt devastated and let down that nobody had listened to me earlier.
‘I want justice for Alfie. No mother should go through that.’
Lucy was scanned 17 weeks into her pregnancy when she first raised concerns at Peterborough City Hospital last year.
She explained: ‘I’d suffered a previous loss at 17 weeks so the scan was to offer assurance.
‘They said I had a perfect little baby boy but I noticed he didn’t move at all during the scan and I thought it was odd.’
At her 20-week scan became distressed again when she noticed the baby wasn’t moving.
‘I kept asking why he wasn’t moving,’ she recalled. ‘He was like a statue on the screen. Alarm bells were ringing and I started crying because I knew it wasn’t right. I became very distressed.
‘That’s when the sonographer turned around and told me not to worry because he was just a ‘lazy boy. I was shocked. I knew that wasn’t right.’
Mrs Copland, from Crowland in Lincolnshire, returned two weeks later for another scan where she again raised concerns that her baby wasn’t moving. She was once again assured he was just ‘lazy’ and told to relax.
‘I couldn’t relax. I knew from my other pregnancies it wasn’t normal for him not to move at all and I begged someone to listen.’
But Mrs Copland said she was denied more scans. Over the following three weeks and five days she called the maternity unit 22 times, expressing concern that her baby still had not moved.
‘I felt like I was going mad. I knew something was wrong with my baby. It is not normal to get to 24 weeks pregnant and not feel your baby move,’ said Ms Copland, who has three other children – Ellie-Mae,4, Rhys, 8, and Tayla, 6.
‘I was an emotional wreck and kept begging for another scan to look for movement, but I was told it would be of no benefit.
‘I even started to think perhaps I was paranoid.’
Finally she was called in for another scan at 26 weeks and an emergency referral was made when medics agreed it was unusual that the tot still wasn’t moving.
She was sent to experts at Nottingham Hospital the following day and it was quickly confirmed her son was suffering with severe birth abnormalities.
Mrs Copland said: ‘I’d been assured all along he was perfect whenever I had raised concerns, but in fact he was so poorly every joint in his body was fused.
‘That is why he had been so still. That is why I had not felt a movement or kick. He had never been lazy at all.
‘I was utterly distraught and angry at the way I had been treated but my priority was my baby.’
She was advised to terminate the pregnancy when it was confirmed her son had the genetic condition Fetal akinesia deformation sequence.
The condition causes the bones to fuse together and reduces lung function amongst other serious abnormalities.
‘It all happened so fast. If you’re told there is nothing wrong for that long and then suddenly advised to abort your baby your world collapses.
‘I refused because if there was a chance he could survive, no matter how disabled, then he deserved that.’
But tragically, just two weeks later, Mrs Copland s water’s went at 28 weeks and she was rushed into theatre for an emergency caesarian section on November 14th last year.
Alfie lived for five hours but passed away before his mother woke from the operation.
Her husband Ben, 27, cradled the newborn as he died and later had to break the heartbreaking news to his wife that he had died.
She said: ‘I broke down when they brought him to me. I tried to dress him and his limbs were so rigid – it was no wonder he had never moved or I had never felt a kick. I wanted to know how they could have missed it for so long.
‘I had repeatedly told them something was wrong with my baby. They should have listened. ‘
Her son was buried next to the baby Lucy had lost at 17 weeks.
She then set about seeking answers from the hospital.
‘I wanted to express what they had put me and my family through by ignoring my fears for so long.’
In a letter to the family, the general manager of the hospital explained the baby’s condition might have been missed because it only became noticeable in the later stages of pregnancy.
But Lucy disputes this: ‘I begged them to listen to me from 20 weeks but it was easier to dismiss me as paranoid.’
The letter from the general manager also apologised for this and said: ‘I apologise that you were made to feel that you were paranoid; this is unacceptable and the members of staff that you refer to in your letter have been seen … and their attitude and behaviour addressed.’
The letter went on : ‘Any comments made during the scan would have had the intention of reassurance. It was inappropriate that the sonographer suggested your baby was “lazy”. This has been addressed with her.’
The hospital has also issued the following statement.
Chris Wilkinson, director of care quality and chief nurse at Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘Firstly, the Trust would like to offer our most sincere condolences to the Copland family at this sad time.
‘It is not appropriate to comment specifically about Lucy Copland’s experience, however the concerns of Mrs Copland were raised through the Trust’s formal complaints system.
‘We have completed a full investigation followed by a meeting with the family to present our findings.
‘The Trust will continue to offer its guidance to the family should they need any further advice.’