Consultant gynaecologist Dr Vaishnavy Laxman, aged 41, is currently facing a tribunal over her actions after they led to the decapitation of a premature baby while it was still in the womb. Laxman, who denies the accusations of negligence and incompetence, was told she should have given the woman an emergency caesarean after her water broke just 25 weeks into her pregnancy.
Laxman, however, decided to try for a natural birth despite the child being in a breech position. When she instructed the woman to push the baby’s arms, legs, and torso were ejected from the womb but the child’s head remained behind, having been decapitated by the force. Afterwards doctors performed a caesarean on the woman to remove the child’s head, which was then reattached to the child’s body so that the mother could hold her baby for one last time.
The mother, who was present at the tribunal, looked at Laxman and told her:
“I don't forgive you.”
The mother was not even in established labour when Laxman started instructing her to push. Upon examination medical records revealed that the woman was only 2-3cm dilated. At the time the woman was told a c-section would be needed but the following day when she went into hospital she was told to start pushing instead. The woman in question gave testimony during the tribunal, telling the court:
Premature baby DECAPITATED inside mum's womb during botched birth https://t.co/wgS9uMWveY— The Sun (@TheSun) May 10, 2018
“But when I was taken to the labour suite nobody told me what was happening. A lot of people were talking they kept saying the baby needed to come out but nobody looked at me in the eye and told me what was going to happen.
“There were two doctors between my legs, one on my right hand side holding my hand and there were other people there too. I was examined by a doctor but she didn't say anything to me. They were checking for the baby's heartbeat and it had plummeted and that's when I was told it was going to come out.
“I remember them saying I was 2-3cm dilated and I was told to push. Nobody said I was not having a c-section and doing something else instead. Whilst this was going on I was in pain.
“The only pain relief I was given was a spray on my tongue. I was told it was meant to loosen my cervix but I was not given gas and air - I was in pain. I had the doctors putting their hands inside me and I had them pushing on my stomach and then pulling me down.
“I tried to get off the bed but they pulled me back three times and just said they had to get the baby out. They twice tried to cut my cervix and nobody told me they were going to do it. There was no anaesthetic. I said to them 'it doesn't feel right, stop it, what's going on, I don't want to do it' but nobody responded to me in any way.
“Afterwards I was in a cubicle with a curtain around me and the sister came over to me and told me my son had passed away. I didn't know the details but Dr Laxman came to see me and the baby's father was there. Dr Laxman sat on the side of my bed and she said how sorry she was for what happened but I didn't know the full extent of what happened at that point.
“I just said 'it's alright, these things happen, I forgive you.' She went away but I started screaming when I found out the full extent - I was just crying. I was upset because of the severity of his injury.
“I would never use the word stillborn, he was not stillborn he was decapitated. I was pregnant, my first pregnancy I wasn't sure what was going on and I was told it was the safest place possible. Nobody explained the plan or risks associated. It was like disorganised chaos and I was scared.”
Premature baby was accidentally DECAPITATED inside his mother's womb 'when an NHS gynaecologist carried out a botched birth' https://t.co/uMUvdVrUzx— Daily Mail U.K. (@DailyMailUK) May 10, 2018
A lawyer for the General Medical Council elaborated further on what happened, saying:
“The attempt to manipulate the baby's head to come out of the cervix failed because the cervix has clamped onto the baby's head and despite effort made to assist, these efforts failed. Dr Laxman made three attempts to cut the cervix with scissors but Baby B's head was separated from his body and his head was stuck inside Patient A's body.”
He later added: “She [Laxman] failed to perform a Caesarean without general anaesthetic at a time when speed was needed. They should have carried out a category 1 Caesarean section. The baby had a heartbeat, it was slow, but it was not dead. The choice was taken by Dr Laxman to try a vaginal delivery and this was the wrong choice. They should never use a vaginal delivery in that situation.”
Laxman faces being struck off because of this incident, and repeatedly apologised during the hearing which is set to continue.