'˜I started screaming': Scots mother relives baby decapitation '˜horror'

A woman whose baby son died after being decapitated during birth has spoken of her horrific experience as part of a campaign to secure new legal rights for unborn children.

Laura Gallazzi spoke to the BBC about her ordeal. Picture: BBC
Laura Gallazzi spoke to the BBC about her ordeal. Picture: BBC

Laura Gallazzi told how her waters broke in March 2014 when she was just over 25 weeks pregnant. Staff at Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital helped her prepare for a premature birth but her unborn baby, who she had already named Steven, died after gynaecologist Dr Vishnavy Laxman wrongly chose a natural delivery over a caesarean section.

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Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland, Ms Gallazzi said; “I was told my baby was OK. They wanted to keep him in my belly for as long as possible because he was in the best possible place – and I was in the hospital so I was in the best place.”

Ninewells Hospital, Dundee. Picture: TSPL

Ms Gallazzi was given an injection to help develop Steven’s lungs for an early birth and taken on a tour of the special care unit in readiness. Two days later, when she felt a tightening around her stomach, she was moved to the labour suite as a precaution.

“It was nothing major, nothing to be concerned about,” she said. “The midwives seemed quite happy. The wee man’s heart was always fine, there was no major cause for concern.”

But the next morning the baby’s umbilical cord had emerged from the womb.

Ms Gallazzi said: “I started screaming, panicking and shouting, hitting the buzzer and all these midwives came in. I was taken to the first available room, put on the bed, wheeled through to theatre, put on another bed. I heard something about being only being two to three centimetres. My son’s heart rate was dipped but it was there. I was thinking to myself: ‘You’re in the right place, all these people know what they’re doing. Just trust them’.”

Ms Gallazzi said she had been told a few days earlier she was likely to have a caesarean section because a scan had shown Steven was in the breech position, head up rather than facing the birth canal.

“The doctor said ‘push’ – and I’m thinking to myself no, I’m not in labour, I don’t feel like I need to push,” she said.

The neck of Ms Gallazzi’s womb was only partially dilated and attempts to deliver her son went on for another 20 to 25 minutes.

Earlier this year a medical tribunal ruled Dr Laxman’s decision to attempt a delivery rather than a caesarean section set in place a chain of events leading to the baby’s decapitation. Another tribunal later ruled she was fit to practise and could return to work, although she is no longer employed by NHS Tayside.