Fortunate Tragedy: Gordon And Sarah Brown Lost A Daughter 15 Years Ago But Her Death Saved Another Life

Date August 2, 2018

In 2002, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah suffered an unimaginable tragedy when their baby girl Jennifer Jane passed on. She was born seven weeks premature and weighed in at just 2lb 4oz.


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Jennifer Jane suffered a brain hemorrhage and her parents remained by her side while doctors battled to stabilize her, amidst dire predictions of survival. Ten days after her birth, the couple had her baptized at the Simpson Memorial Maternity Pavilion in a private ceremony.


Dr. Tahir Mahmood who was the consulting obstetrician reported that the baby suffered from intra-uterine growth restriction, a peculiar condition that affects about 10% of all pregnancies. The result is an irregular heart rate that is in many cases fatal.

A gift of life

15 years after, the tragedy that the Browns experienced has birthed hope for children suffering the same condition. After their daughter's death, they helped set up a laboratory in Edinburgh to study the condition and find ways to help babies that suffer from it.


It turns out their efforts were not in vain. Work carried out by the Jennifer Brown Research Laboratory (JBRL) at the University of Edinburgh was instrumental in saving the life of the grandchild of former Labour leader John Smith.

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Early last year, Catherine Smith revealed that her daughter Ella McConnachie was lucky as work at the lab "impacted directly" on the care her daughter received. Ella was born at 28 weeks weighing 1lb 10oz and is now two years old, hale and hearty.


On his part, Mr. Brown is happy with the progress made at the lab and even finds solace in the fact that the tragedy his family faced motivated the fantastic work going on which is saving many lives.

Sarah and I never had the joy of experiencing Jennifer taking her first steps, or speaking her first words, or going to school for the first time. But we have realised that after 15 years, out of tragedy some good can come.

Mrs. Brown was equally happy and said that seeing Ella alive and well was comfort enough, not just to her but also to everyone involved in the research.


It's extraordinarily important to know that Ella has survived and thrived, she is an amazing, bouncy fully healthy little girl. That's what you want every baby to have the opportunity to be.

Love lives on


Mr. and Mrs. Brown are also parents to two sons, James Fraser and John. Although the boys were too young to understand the loss of their sister, we are sure that growing up, their parents will come to explain to them what happened and how their sister even in death is responsible for saving many lives.

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