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“He’s a part of me that I’ll never forget”: A mother opens up about losing her son at just two hours old

As ITV Central works to reveal the true human cost of the Shropshire maternity scandal, one mother opens up about the pain of realising - 15 years after losing her son - that there were hundreds more like her.

  • Full video report by Charlotte Cross

Kamaljit Uppal doesn’t have much to remember her son, Manpreet, by.

Two pieces of paper are among her most precious items; one is a birth certificate, the other a death certificate.

Both are dated April 2003.

And they’re timed just two hours apart.

“I don’t think I’ll ever get over it,” she tells me.

"We all sit as a family at home, we all have quality time. But he's missing. He's a part of me that I'll never forget."

Manpreet was her third child.

She knew there could be problems - she says she had been in and out of hospital throughout her pregnancy, and Manpreet had been breech since around five months.

But she never expected to lose him.

She says that she “begged” maternity staff to give her a Caesarian section, but instead they insisted she try to deliver naturally.

But Manpreet got stuck halfway, only his legs protruding.

It was only then that Kamaljit was given the section she wanted.

"They called the crash team, because the baby was still stuck half in me and half out of me. And they rushed me in for a C-section,” she says.

I don't know what happened after that, until I came round in the recovery ward, they told me I'd had a little bouncy boy. Then two hours later, they come and told me the baby's died.

An hour later, the baby's being put into my arms. They've sat me up, and they've put the baby into my arms. And they said 'say goodbye to your son’.”

I had him in my arms. I kissed him, I hugged him. I said 'I'll see you one day.'

And then the nurse took him away.

– Kamaljit Uppal

She says the way she was treated afterwards compounded the trauma.

She says she had no idea there were others until she saw a news report in 2018.

"They put in a ward where there was babies crying and I didn't know what to make of it because I didn't know how to grieve,” she says.

“And I had a lady come into my room saying 'what milk does your baby drink?' And I looked around the room, dazed, and said 'I've got no baby. My baby died'."

Her case is now among hundreds being looked at as part of an independent review into maternity care at Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital Trust.

Until 2018, she'd had no idea her loss wasn't a one-off.

It was only when she saw a news report about the ongoing review that she realised how many others there were out there living with the same pain.

"My legs went like jelly, and I sat down and I was shocked what I heard and how many family were involved. I feel sorry for them because I know exactly what they've gone through,” she says.

She's now having counselling, to help her cope with what happened - and the life that could have been.

Manpreet was born at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital Trust's director of midwifery, Nicola Wenlock, said she was "truly sorry" for what had happened.

I am truly sorry for Mrs Uppal’s experience under our care and for the sad loss of her son, Manpreet.

We are listening and acting on learning and feedback. Among the improvements we have made are the introduction of mandatory training for all members of our teams in the management of emergency situations.

All members of our teams must also complete a yearly assessment of their knowledge and skills in the monitoring of babies in labour.

We recognise we still have further to go and I’d like to reassure mums-to-be and their families that we are working to ensure our care is aligned to best practice guidance.

– Nicola Wenlock, director of midwifery, Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital Trust

Anyone who has been affected by the issues raised in this series can find advice and support here.

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