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IMO doctors call for palliative care for babies

By Ann Marie Foley - 14 April, 2015

“We are delighted with the support of the IMO membership for standardised peri-natal palliative care protocols" - Jennifer Kehoe, spokesperson for One Day More.

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A support group for parents whose unborn babies were diagnosed with life limiting conditions has welcomed the call from the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) for standardised national palliative care protocols for babies with life limiting conditions.

One Day More gave the thumbs up to the IMO motion passed at its annual conference in Kilkenny which called on the Minister for Health to make peri-natal palliative care available across Ireland.

“We are delighted with the support of the IMO membership for standardised peri-natal palliative care protocols. As parents of babies diagnosed with life limiting conditions while still in the womb, we know better than most how precious time can be,” said Jennifer Kehoe, spokesperson for One Day More.

She added that “Peri-natal palliative care gives that gift of time, care and memories to families like ours as well as the highest standard of medical care to our babies.”

“Despite the fact that the issue of babies with life limiting illnesses often becomes a debate about abortion, today medical professionals have solidly backed the implementation of proper palliative care for the most vulnerable and youngest of patients,” she added.

According to Jennifer Kehoe, the IMO motion shows a commitment to best practice for “tiny patients” and their families.

One Day More will continue to work to ensure that these protocols, which the group describes as the “gold standard of care” for these babies and their families, are rolled out at every level within the health system as soon as possible.

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“It is not actually formally available in Ireland,” Jennifer Kehoe told CatholicIreland.net.

She explained most of the mothers that are in the group got care that is very similar to peri-natal. So they were able hold and stay with their baby, take photos and baptise it.

Full formal peri-natal palliative care provides all the supports so parents can make the most of the precious time they have with their baby.

They can bathe and dress the baby, have other family members present including brothers and sisters. Many take photographs and collect footprints and other keepsakes, with the assistance of hospital staff.

For babies who live longer, parents may care for their baby at home, with the support of hospice and palliative care professionals if needed.

However, Jennifer Kehoe explained that for some mothers it depends on the ideology of the doctor who speaks to them about the ultrasound diagnosis that their baby has life limiting condition.

Sometimes they are told abortion is the only option and not told about alternatives like peri-natal palliative care.

She said that peri-natal care would not cost a lot of money, as it is not a building but a model of care which requires a designated area in the hospital and nurses trained in that kind of care.

The support group has previously raised the issue when it met members of the Human Dignity Group in Dáíl Éireann on February 2015 to discuss the Clare Daly abortion Bill and their concerns about the “almost exclusive focus on abortion” in the debate.

One Day More wanted to tell TDs about the need for more resources to fund peri-natal hospice care as a life-affirming alternative to abortion.

One Day More is a support group for parents who have received a poor pre-natal diagnosis for their babies. It promotes hospice care and support for families in these situations and believes every family deserves the chance to meet their child no matter how short their baby’s life may be and with the best support possible.

Details and links to related websites and YouTube videos which portray what peri-natal care is all about can be seen on www.onedaymore.ie

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