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This was one of the most difficult stories I have ever had to work on.


What if you fell pregnant and, at 25 weeks gestation, you lost your baby?  Just like that.  One day you could feel your baby moving inside you and the next day, doctors say your baby is in trouble.  Big trouble.  They get your baby out but it’s too late.

You stare at him.  He looks perfect in every way.  He’s very small but has all his dainty fingers and toes.  He looks asleep except you know better.

You’re both inconsolable.

The nurses kindly let you know that you can spend as much time as possible with him before they have to take him away.  You don’t have to worry about anything.  They will “take care” of it.

But, you want to bury your boy.IMG_0600

You’re not allowed to.

The law is clear.  If your baby is born at 26 weeks or younger and doesn’t survive, your baby’s body is treated like medical waste.  There are ways around it which will involve a very sympathetic doctor prepared to risk his job and many aren’t prepared to do it.

Losing a child at any age is traumatic.  For these parents in particular, there are no memories.  It’s worse, they say.  Especially when they either had to fight for their child’s remains at the hospital or were so traumatised by the loss they didn’t argue.  The latter find it difficult to sleep at night.

“Our child deserved a decent burial,” was what I heard often during interviews.

These parents now blame themselves for not fighting harder for their children.

But, it’s now too late.

Laws need to change.

More people need to make a noise.

I’m glad we did.

Devi Govender

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