Wandsworth family’s heartache at turning off eight week old son’s life support

BY TOBY PORTER
toby@slpmedia.co.uk

The family of an eight-week old baby are to make an official complaint after his life support was switched off on Sunday – when they believe he had been born in good health. Dash Morally died within 10 minutes of his oxygen being turned off – but medics had been trying to persuade his mum since he was born that he could not survive.

Mum Alice Leyenda, and dad Shay Morally, from Clapham Junction, had fought throughout their son’s short life to have the tot kept alive at the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, in Fulham Road, Chelsea.

His aunt Amanda Daniels, from Clapham Junction, had joined the fight for Dash’s survival because she believed Alice’s borderline personality disorder was affecting the doctors’ judgement on whether the baby would survive to have an independent life.

Dash was born 25 weeks into her pregnancy – 11 weeks prematurely – and spent all his life in an infant intensive care unit.

The couple were told he would be deaf, blind and unable to walk because he had a bleed in his skull which had damaged vital parts of his brain.

Staff tried to persuade them over the next seven weeks to switch off the life support machine. Medics believed he had meningitis at one stage, but then did a lumber puncture which showed he did not.

He was also treated for epileptic seizures.

The family finally agreed on Sunday that the machine could be switched off to see if he could survive, but he only lived another 10 minutes.

They cradled him for eight hours before taking his body to the hospital mortuary.

Amanda, a mother of four, said: “We felt as if they were just waiting for Dash to die all along. They were not helpful at all. Even after he died, it took almost two hours to open the mortuary so we could leave Dash’s body.

And they would not let us see his medical notes.

“He was fine and active when he was born. He opened his eyes when I walked in the room. But they kept saying he would die and gave him drugs and he only started having seizures when they tried to wean him off them.

“I met another woman while we were there who said her baby was born that early and had the same problems but was fine now – and she told us not let them switch off the machine. “But we did not now what to do for the best.

“Christmas was horrible – no one wanted to celebrate it. We were all numb. We tried to go back to the hospital on Christmas Eve but Alice just wasn’t up to it.”

Alice, from Upper Richmond Road, Wandsworth, said: “I have had meetings at the hospital every Friday since he was born, with them telling me to switch off the machine.

“But Dash did look at me and was able to move around. You never know for sure what he would have been able to do. “They said they could turn the machine off without my agreement. “They always spoke to me on my own and I did not like that.

“They said he was having epileptic seizures when he pulled his tubes out so they sedated him. “I had started off having my ante-natal care at St George’s Hospital in Tooting but was referred to Chelsea & Westminster because of my being bipolar – they know more about mental health issues there.

“I asked for him to be transferred from Chelsea & Westminster and for a second opinion but they said he was too sick to be moved and another hospital would not take him.”

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