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Mum wants legal identity for babies after son's decapitation

Laura Gallazzi wants infants over 24 weeks to be given a legal identity after her ordeal.

Staring lovingly at photographs of her little baby boy, Laura Gallazzi looks at the perfect little fingers and toes of her son Steven.

The baby blue bear cradled in her arms for comfort contains the ashes of the infant, who died horrifically five years ago.

Her premature baby, who was being delivered breech, was decapitated by Dr Vaishnavy Laxman whilst giving birth.

"He had all these injuries to his heart, to his liver and to his kidneys and I remember thinking that must have been some force she used to decapitate him," Ms Gallazzi explains.

Laura was later told there would be no criminal case as her son had no legal identity because he didn't take a breath.

Now Ms Gallazzi is campaigning so that every baby over 24 weeks is given a legal identity.

"Every time someone signs it, it's an acknowledgement of baby Steven."

'Whether that baby's miscarried, stillborn or worse case scenario - anything, as long as that baby gets a chance because my son didn't get a chance, so me and the rest of his family don't get justice done because he's not classed as a person.'
Laura Gallazzi

"Whether that baby's miscarried, stillborn or worse case scenario - anything, as long as that baby gets a chance because my son didn't get a chance, so me and the rest of his family don't get justice done because he's not classed as a person," she said.

"If he'd been classed as a person we probably would have had a criminal case. [Dr Laxman] would have had to stand up in court but nothing like that has happened.

"She's been allowed to get on with her life, my life's been blown apart."

Laura is comforted by a blue bear containing her son's ashes.
Laura is comforted by a blue bear containing her son's ashes. STV

In March 2014, Laura was just over 25 weeks pregnant when her waters broke. She attended Ninewells Hospital in Dundee and was kept under observation for a few days.

When she felt a tightening around her stomach she was moved to the labour suite as a precaution but the next day the umbilical cord emerged from the womb and medical staff sprang into action.

She was taken to theatre where her baby's heart rate had dipped, but it was still present. Then she was told to push.

Dr Laxman, who had been working since 8.30am the previous day, had gone home at 6pm for five hours.

She then returned to the hospital at 11pm before being told about Ms Gallazzi at 2am.

Ms Laxman was then paged at 8.30am to take a look at her when her condition became more critical.

'I was asked to push again and I was thinking 'why are you asking me to do that, I've already done that' and then the place just went absolutely chaotic.'
Laura Gallazzi

"I was thinking to myself, I'm not in labour, I'm not dilated," Ms Gallazzi said.

She decided to keep calm and carry out the instructions given to her by the medical team.

"I basically just did what they had asked me to do, unbeknown to me that it would be so fatal.

"After about 20 minutes, I felt a pop and I thought 'I've done it' because I didn't feel anything between my legs."

Laura said she didn't feel concerned that her baby wasn't crying, as she thought as he was so young, he may have had an obstruction.

She added: "Then I was asked to push again and I was thinking 'why are you asking me to do that, I've already done that' and then the place just went absolutely chaotic."

Laura then recalls looking at the clock as she was put to sleep and underwent a cesarean section to remove her son's head from her womb.

When she was told what had happened to her son, she was heartbroken.

"I was absolutely devastated, I was screaming 'don't bring him in here, I don't want to see him'.

"I felt so helpless... I'm his mum, I should be protecting him and I couldn't, I couldn't do anything."

Laura looks at images of her baby son for comfort.
Laura looks at images of her baby son for comfort. STV

She said that it was like a 'sledgehammer to the gut' when she heard Dr Laxman was allowed to continue practising medicine following a tribunal last year.

"How could you do that to another human being and be fit to practice?" she questions.

Tribunal

In June, a medical tribunal found that Dr Vaishnavy Laxman wrongly decided to deliver Laura's baby naturally at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.

It was found that her cervix was too small, being no more than 4cm wide, during the delivery.

The baby's head became trapped during the birth and various techniques were tried to free it, but during this his "head became detached from his body", a medical tribunal found.

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service panel said he had died before this happened.

Tribunal papers said: "The tribunal found that the breach extraction and consequences of traction was necessitated by Dr Vaishnavy Laxman's earlier decision to proceed with a vaginal delivery and which is the subject of the tribunal's findings.

https://stv.tv/news/north/1417193-doctor-decapitated-baby-after-failing-caesarean-section/ | default

"Accordingly, the tribunal found that Dr Vaishnavy Laxman conduct set in train a course of events which ultimately resulted in the decapitation of baby B and to this extent contributed to the decapitation.

"But for Dr Vaishnavy Laxman error of judgement in this regard, the decapitation would not have occurred."

However, Dr Laxman avoided being struck off and was allowed to return to work immediately.

Tribunal papers said: "The tribunal did not find that Dr Vaishnavy Laxman's fitness to practise is impaired by reason of misconduct."

They added: "The tribunal wished to record that nothing in this determination should distract from the fact that on March 16, 2014, Dr Vaishnavy Laxman made a significant error of judgement which had serious consequences and a profound impact upon patient A and for which Dr Vaishnavy Laxman bears a heavy responsibility."

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