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Dublin: 14°C Wednesday 25 May 2022

Irish couple on the difficult choice they faced after their baby was diagnosed with a fatal foetal abnormality

Michelle and Vin Manley spent three hours with their son before he died – but they say there’s no right decision for couples faced with the same decision as they were.

Michelle Manley
Michelle Manley
Image: RTÉ

AN IRISH COUPLE has spoken about the difficult decision they faced after finding out that their unborn baby had a fatal foetal abnormality.

Michelle and Vin Manley decided to take their pregnancy until full term after discovering that their child would not survive outside the womb.

However, the Drogheda couple told RTÉ’s Late Late Show last night that they think anyone in the same position should be able to make their own choice.

“There is no right and there is no wrong thing to do from that moment on,” said Michelle, a nurse.

“The right thing to do is what is right for you and your unborn baby.”

She said she realised her own child would seriously ill after a 20-week scan and that staff at the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin subsequently told her there was no chance of life after birth.

The couple spent a number of days considering their two options: continue with the pregnancy or travel to the UK for a termination.

“We were lucky enough to be in a position where we could continue,” Michelle told presenter Ryan Tubridy.

We just decided that this baby was going to decide what happened. We handed over power.
He was a jelly bean at the time. We didn’t know he was Jamie.
We just said: ‘You know what, jelly bean? You decide when you come, how you come and I think that’s what made it OK.

Short life

The couple said they felt their son “knew what he was doing” and that they decided “to let him keep going”.

Capture Source: RTÉ

“We really firmly believe that Jamie was brought us into our lives to make us happy, not to make us sad,” Michelle said.

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She said she and her partner “looked forward” to her scans throughout the pregnancy, as they allowed them to feel closer to their unborn child.

“We were getting to see him move, hear his heartbeat,” she said.

That was our time with our baby … That was our time being his parents.

The couple’s son was born on 9 January, 2015 – his exact due date – and died three hours later.

He lived from 10.30pm to 1.30am, Michelle said.

“We told him how happy we were to meet him, how courageous he is.

“We were never meant to have that time and he gave it to us,” she said.

Read: Abortion bill hasn’t led to more women “claiming suicidality” to get a termination

Read: “She drove from Waterford to Dublin to fly to London on her own to have an abortion”

About the author:

Catherine Healy

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