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Now I was with her, I knew she could die without immediate treatment.The situation seemed bleak, but that night I was to witness some amazing events, including a medical effort so concerted that it seems almost incredible now.Thick grey smog swirled through the grim dockside streets as two policemen disappeared into the dark on a desperate mission to find medical help for the delirious Conchita Warren.In the early 1950s, smog regularly paralysed east London, and the officers couldn't see a hand in front of them.Just then, Conchita regained consciousness, and cried: "" (Baby. In the 1950s, most big hospitals provided such a squad as back-up for domiciliary midwives.It was the proud boast of the London squad that it could reach any obstetric emergency in 20 minutes.In the East End of the Fifties - where the Krays dominated the criminal underworld, bomb sites doubled as adventure playgrounds and violent pimps lured penniless women into prostitution - families were large.

I had been training for a year as a midwife with the nuns of the Nonnatus Convent in the east end of London when I witnessed this scene.Then, as suddenly as it started, the screaming stopped. Her breathing also seemed to have stopped, though I could feel a flutter of heartbeat. I snatched a large kidney dish, scooped up the baby, and dumped it on the dresser."Now we must get Conchita warm, cleaned up and comfortable if she is to stand a chance," I told Len and his eldest daughter Liz, 22.Conchita gave a terrible final cry, and the baby was born. "The main thing is to treat the shock." Minutes later Len, who had gone over to the dresser, gasped. "The baby's moving." Indeed the leg of the tiny creature - a boy - was moving. Len warmed a small towel on a hot water bottle, and we wrapped the baby in it.He looked exhausted after more than 24 hours treating patients, yet he had the courtesy to apologise for being late. We all agreed mother and baby should be transferred to hospital but Len was alarmed. We went back into Conchita's room, where mother was still asleep, her hand over the baby that was still lying on her chest.An ambulance was called from Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and when it arrived, it discharged a doctor who hurried past carrying an incubator, then another carrying a ventilating machine followed by a nurse carrying a huge box and, finally, two ambulancemen and a policeman carrying oxygen cylinders.

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