Fenland couple's tribute to baby Danielle who died just eight days after being born

By John Elworthy TEACHER Andrew Field and his wife Liza have created a poignant on line tribute to their baby daughter Danielle who died just eight days after being born. In compelling detail Andrew, head of IT at Neale Wade Community College, March, de

By John Elworthy

TEACHER Andrew Field and his wife Liza have created a poignant on line tribute to their baby daughter Danielle who died just eight days after being born.

In compelling detail Andrew, head of IT at Neale Wade Community College, March, describes the moment Danielle was born at Addenbroke's Hospital, Cambridge, and the extraordinary medical battle to save her.

"Danielle was never able to leave the hospital but we treasure the time that we were able to have with her," says Andrew.

Their first person accounts offer that rarest of insights - a reflection of the anxiety, fear, hope and frustration suffered by parents faced with the overwhelming grief of waiting for news of their baby's fight for survival.

"We were given lots of information about what had happened and it started to become clear how ill Danielle was," says Andrew. "The consultants were very clear and direct- this, both Liza and I are certain, helped us from the start. It was horrible to find out more details but the situation was made clear from the start."

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Up until the delivery the Fields believed everything would go through as normal but during the final stages Liza encountered what is known as 'shoulder dystocia', a major complication where the baby's shoulder becomes stuck.

"With Danielle it seems to have been a particularly complicated case where the doctors and midwifes had to go through the entire range of recommended procedures," says Andrew. "When Danielle was born she was given immediate resuscitation but didn't breathe for 18 minutes. As we currently understand, this - together with the time she was stuck - meant she suffered extensive brain damage due to a lack of oxygen reaching her brain.

"The extent of this damage became clear in an MRI scan when she was a week old. "She died later the next evening, two hours after she was taken off her breathing apparatus."

Andrew describes the range of drugs and medicines given to Danielle, and the medical advances that included their daughter undergoing a 'cooling' process whereby her entire body was gradually cooled to a low temperature to give her internal organs, but especially her brain, the best chance of recovery.

"We were told at the time that other organs could recover but any injury to the brain wouldn't repair itself so the cooling process was an attempt to minimise damage and preserve what hadn't been affected," he says.

Liza knew immediately after giving birth there were complications and "I knew then that something was wrong but was feeling very exhausted. They took her and put her on a resuscitation table. Next thing I really recall is Andy getting me to touch our new baby's hand while they were wheeling my bed out to take me to theatre.

"Theatre was not scary. It was very big and there were lots of doctors.

"Everyone was so lovely to me and kept saying such reassuring things. When they had finished I remember a midwife asking about the baby's name. I told her that it was Danielle and that my husband must not call her Dorkas (a name that was jokingly suggested to us by my mother-in-law)."

On Saturday April 3, however, Danielle passed away- and six days later the Fields began compiling their on line tribute to commemorate the daughter they will never forget.

AT the funeral service at Cambridge Crematorium, Andrew paid tribute to the family and friends who had surrounded them, to the vicar ("who broke the rules to baptise Danielle on Good Friday"), and to the medical staff at the hospital.

"Yet, most of all, we must say thank you to Danielle. In the eight days of your life we didn't get to know much but we did find out a few things.

"You were really tough. Once you clamped your hand onto a finger you didn't let go. "You had a really great grip.

"You had a good sense of humour. The nurses let mummy know that she was now in charge of the nappies. Mummy changed one and made it look easy. Yet when it was the nurses' turn you delivered some serious surprises. Excellent timing.

"You had a well refined sense of taste. When you cuddled into me, your eyes kept looking at whatever shirt I was wearing. You couldn't take your eyes off the top quality gear. Clear evidence you appreciated Daddy's dress sense.

"You took your own decisions. From the start we wanted to respond to what you let us know. The consultants told us this would be best - and we were determined to listen. You gave us hope and joy. Yet as time went on it became more evident just how ill you were.

"When we got the results of your MRI scan it was clear that you didn't have the capacity to breathe properly. On your final night, just one day later, you couldn't have made it more comfortable for us.

"Your breathing tube was removed at 11.05pm and you went asleep in your Moses basket. Around 50 minutes later you started making deep breathing noises. We checked and were told that you weren't in pain.

"I picked you up and rocked you. You felt so peaceful but were clearly on the way out. Your mum then took over and held you tight. At exactly 1.05am, two hours later, you stopped breathing.

"We'd not had enough time to get to know you but you'd been kind enough to give us time to say goodbye.

"We'll never forget you Danielle - thank you for being our daughter.