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Pregnant woman commits suicide, family blames hospital

Posted: 07/5/2012 7:00 am

Should a hospital inform a pregnant woman that her baby may be born deformed? At what age is a woman too old to have a baby? Should a hospital be blamed when one of its patients commits suicide? These are among the questions raised by a recent incident in Guangzhou.

A pregnant woman killed herself and her unborn baby after jumping out of a window at the Red Cross hospital in the city’s Baiyun District on July 2, according to local media. The cause is being investigated.

The family of Feng Yanxia, 35, suspect that she had had a nervous breakdown after her doctor repeatedly warned her that the baby may be deformed. The hospital explained that the doctor was simply doing his duty by respecting Feng’s right to know. No doctor had done anything inappropriate, the hospital said. Both parties are trying to figure out what happened.

It is thought that the act was pre-meditated, because Feng ensured that her husband He Zhihong was not around to try to stop her. “She sent me to buy dumplings,” said the husband, “but clearly this was to get me out of the way.”

On the morning of June 2, Feng’s mood appeared to be normal. She lay in room 460 of the hospital with her husband waiting for her daily check-up which was at 9:30 a.m. Around 9 a.m., after telling her husband to buy dumplings, Feng took an elevator up to the seventh floor and jumped out of the nearest window.

After her body was found, Feng was taken to the emergency ward but died at 3:50 in the afternoon. Feng’s husband argued that the only possible reason for the suicide was that she couldn’t bear to have a deformed baby.

In April this year, lumps started to grow all over Feng’s body. She was worried that this might affect her baby. On June 29, she had an examination at the maternity hospital in Haizhu District and was told that she was 34 weeks pregnant, but the foetus was still at the stage of development expected in the 32nd week.

After transferring to the Red Cross Hospital, the husband insisted that his wife rest for a few days and if the situation worsened, transfer to another.

He and Feng are both natives of Baiyun District, and both worked in a clothing factory in the city. They had been happily married for 10 years and their daughter was an outstanding student and the monitor of her class, which is similar to being class president. On the afternoon of June 3, He and his daughter stood at the spot where the mother had been found and wept silently.

Both the family and the hospital will continue to investigate what drove Feng to suicide. An expert told media that the hospital was acting within the law and the ethics of the profession by telling Feng and her husband that there was a possibility of the baby being born deformed. But emphasised that doctors must use their own initiative and show “tact” in dealing with such serious situations.

Netizens have had mixed reactions. With one Weibo user saying, “As a pregnant woman, I think the hospital has behaved shamelessly.” Others said the hospital had done nothing wrong, as they would have run the rick of being sued if they hadn’t told her.

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