Babies and children

Stillborn baby survives after freezing treatment

Stillborn baby survives after freezing treatment New approach prevents brain damage

A stillborn baby girl was brought back to life after 25 minutes and is alive today thanks to a pioneering freezing treatment.

Rachel Claxton’s daughter Ella was stillborn after the placenta ruptured during labour. It took the doctors at Peterborough District Hospital 25 minutes before a heartbeat was detected.

Ms Claxton said: “When I went in to labour, all the monitors showed everything was all well and ok, then I felt the urge to push. Two pushes and Ella was born and whisked away, all I remember seeing was blood coming from her nose.

"The next 45 minutes were the longest of my life, consultants, doctors, midwives everywhere. I caught a glimpse of somebody doing chest compressions on my baby and bags of blood being passed through."

Although alive, baby Ella was at high risk of brain damage due to being deprived of oxygen for so long.

The decision was taken to transfer Ella to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge where she was given a pioneering freezing treatment.

Ella was wrapped in a special blanket filled with a cooling fluid, and her temperature lowered from a normal 37C to 33.5C, for three days. Lowering the body temperature to this level is the only way doctors can try to limit damage to a baby's brain caused by oxygen deprivation.

The treatment is not without risks. Cooling a baby in this way can cause problems with blood pressure, bleeding, and chemical and sugar imbalances, and the baby must be monitored closely.

Ella's dad, Jason Anderson, 33, from Peterborough, said: "I laid my hand on her head - and she was ice cold to the touch"

After three days, Ella's temperature was gradually raised by a half a degree at a time until it returned to normal. Eight days later, she was allowed to go home.

Ms Claxton, who now campaigns for the treatment to be made more widely available, said: "Today I believe the cooling treatment saved my daughter from severe brain damage or even death.

"She is nearly 10 months old and is doing really well. She undergoes physio regularly as she is still not crawling about and they have noticed right sided weakness.

"But this is nothing, she is with us and a miracle baby at that."

More information

Please visit

This article was published on Thu 3 March 2011

Image © Wendy Kaveney -

Related Stories

Use this story

Link to this page
Printer friendly version

Share this page