Franzisca (2012) – Spain

Woman not informed of serious fetal defects at 12-week ultrasound

Franzisca and her husband went for an ultrasound on 23 October 2012 at 12 weeks of pregnancy. It was their third pregnancy, and a wanted child. The doctor noticed a lump on the head of the fetus and didn’t know what it was. She was given an appointment for 2 weeks later (6 November) for another ultrasound. The two doctors said they were following the problem and had a clinical session the next day to evaluate the case and decide on possible actions. On November 7, the doctor told her she had to get an amniocentesis and an early echo-cardiogram. It turned out that the fetus had bilateral renal pyelectasis and a grade 6 echogenic heart. However, a doctor told Franzisca that the “twisted feet” of the fetus could be corrected, bluntly dismissing the need for a termination.

Nobody in the obstetrics service informed the couple at the 12-week ultrasound that another severe malformation of the fetus was clearly observed. It was diagnosed by a gynecologist as an occipital meningocele (after observing a defect of the cranial occipital skull cap covered by skin and meninges, with observations of arachnoid strips inside the hernial sac and through the spine.) This was corroborated by 2 other gynecologists and two family doctors when they looked at the 12th week ultrasound. Franzisca stated: “I believe that they are not served by this service and that they are negligent because they do not know how to diagnose or because they hide information.”

By 20 weeks of pregnancy, the fetus had stopped growing and showed serious morphological deficiencies. Franzisca was forced to carry to term because 100% of the doctors in her home province of Murcia were “conscientious objectors.” Her local hospital even sent her a letter confirming that. Franzisca said their lives have changed “100 per cent” as she and her husband can no longer work because their profoundly disabled son requires constant care.

Sources: Interview with Franzisca and her husband in 2018, as well as the claim from Franzisca (“Nicola”) to the Hospital da Costa Burela, 28 December 2012 (translated and summarized from Galician).