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Doctor walks free in snapped-neck baby trial

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An unrelated labour. Photo: Shutterstock
11:41 CET+01:00
A Swedish couple who lost their first baby, born with a snapped neck, lost in court on Thursday against the doctor who refused the mother a Cesarian despite a 55-hour labour.

The labour took place in May 2011, when the doctor tried nine times to get baby Hilda out of the womb with a suction cup and tongues. The healthcare news wire Vårdfokus reported that the midwives had several times told the doctor that he should perform a Cesarian, advice which he ignored.

The child was born with a broken neck. The mother also suffered such severe tearing that she has had to undergo surgery five times.

Eksjö District Court on Thursday dismissed the charges of causing another's death and causing bodily harm.

During the trial, further details emerged of the infant's damages, previously unknown to the grieving parents. In addition to the baby's snapped neck, her body showed signs of multiple fractures. To make matters worse, she had moved her mouth when she was halfway out, which the parents did not know until the trial.

"They saw signs of life when the head was out and I had no idea," mother Johanna Svensson told the local GT newspaper in February as she endured the six-day trial. "I had earlier been told that she was already dead (...) they could have done something."

The 67-year-old doctor at Höglandssjukhuset in Eksjö has maintained his innocence.

"It was such an incredibly vulgar way to deal with a labour," Svensson countered. "One knew it wasn't going the way it should have gone."

While the doctor has appealed his revoked right to practice license, he was taken to court by the parents because they wanted to prevent other parents from having to go through the "same hell".

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His defence has argued that the child was stuck in the mother's womb due to cervical spasms, and that as such the number of times the doctor had used the suction cup was irrelevant.

"For him to be found guilty, the law requires that a lack of due caution leads to a consequence," lawyer Annika Borg told the Expressen newspaper during the trial. "There is no scientific evidence to support that. What happened was completely unpredictable."  

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