Our baby's fate should be our decision, parents tell inquiry

The mother of a baby girl who was left to die after being born prematurely called yesterday for parents to be given the right to decide whether doctors should try to save their children.

Giving evidence at a fatal accident inquiry into the death of her daughter, Rebecca, Kirsten-Anne Cassidy, 23, said that even if the child had little chance of surviving, resuscitation should still be carried out.

Mrs Cassidy gave birth at Ayrshire Central Hospital last September, following a 25-week pregnancy, but her 1lb 4oz baby died up to an hour later after paediatrician Faisal al-Zidgali deemed her to be "non- viable", with no prospect of survival.

However, according to Mrs Cassidy her daughter, although small, was breathing normally and was "perfectly formed".

Mrs Cassidy, of Benbain Place, Irvine, Ayrshire, repeatedly told the inquiry at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court that she and her husband John, 35, should have been given the ultimate decision whether Rebecca had the potential to live. "If they show the slightest sign of life surely that is enough for them to be given a chance?" she said. "The parents' opinion should be definitely making a difference as to what the decision is."

Mrs Cassidy, who spent almost four hours in the witness box, told the inquiry that it took doctors up to five minutes to visit her after she had given birth to Rebecca.

She claimed that when Dr al-Zidgali did arrive after her husband had already telephoned relatives to tell them the baby was alive. She said he walked up to the ventilator table on which the baby had been placed and said the child was too small to survive.

Mrs Cassidy said that before she went into labour the doctors and midwives had not indicated what they intended to do after the birth, advocating instead a "wait and see" attitude.

She told her lawyer, John Macdonald, she had assumed that if the baby was born alive they would do everything they could to sustain life.

Asked by Mr Macdonald if she knew of any guidelines covering such a case, Mrs Cassidy said that she knew of two separate guidelines.

The first, used throughout Britain, was that babies born weighing more than 500 grammes should be put into intensive care - Rebecca had been 570 grammes.

The second was that doctors should do what the parents requested.