Baby Not Resuscitated at 21 Weeks, Too Costly

A baby born 21 weeks premature in the United Kingdom was denied resuscitation at the discretion of the doctor because her survival likelihood was too low and the costs associated would be too high. This incident has sparked a debate in the United States as to how much money can (or should) be spent on the end (or beginning) of someone’s life if their likelihood of survival is slim.

In the case of baby Jayden, the doctors were following U.K. guidelines that establish that a baby is not necessarily required to undergo extensive resuscitation before 22 weeks. This is because the baby hasn’t developed much in the way of lungs, meaning that the ability to breathe will be difficult with or without a ventilator.

According to doctors interviewed by ABC News in the United States, the same sentiment prevailed. No baby before 22 weeks is likely to survive, even with resuscitation. In fact, there is only one baby born in the United States that has survived being born prior to 22 weeks, and she missed the mark by only one day.

So what if the doctor did decide to resuscitate the baby?

This is where the real debate comes in. The health care costs associated with preterm babies born in the United States was $26 billion in 2005. While this cost is extremely high, many doctors believe that taxpayers wouldn’t mind subsidizing the costs to save babies. But with attempts to resuscitate a 21-week-old baby with a virtually zero likelihood of survival, many say that the costs would ultimately be flushed down the drain.

So what should happen? Should money be set aside to allow for resuscitation in instances such as Jayden’s? There are plenty of debates out there regarding the issue of life versus cost. Now’s the time to voice your opinion about which you think is more important in this scenario.