To her family, baby Martha Damulira is one in a million. And she’s also a VIP to the 21-strong team of medics who were needed to deliver her safely and save her mum’s life at the same time.
Doctors from London’s Brompton Hospital were rushed up to assist teams at Reading’s Royal Berkshire Hospital when it became clear that mum Laura was not only overdue, but had serious, previously undetected, heart problems.
A theatre at the RBH had to be set up to accommodate the 21 consultants, anaesthetists and other health professionals who worked for several hours to perform an emergency caesarean whilst at the same time battling to maintain Laura’s heart function and keep her alive.
At the end of the marathon procedure, Laura was rushed to Harefield Hospital where she spent nearly two weeks in intensive care. It was five days before she was able to set eyes on her new baby after medics agreed to relax the rules so husband Ben could take Martha in to meet her mum.
Laura was transferred back to the RBH last week for days of further tests and observation and it was only when she was finally allowed to go home to Woodley on Thursday 29th May that she was properly reunited with Martha
“It’s been a total roller coaster which started when I rang 111 because I was nine days overdue and had developed swollen ankles which I was worried could be deep vein thrombosis. I was advised to go to Emergency Department and next thing was I’d been admitted and told I had serious heart problems which was a complete shock,” said Laura, 29.
“The next day doctors said they needed to perform an emergency caesarean and that consultants from the Brompton were coming over with a special heart by- pass machine that apparently only about five other hospitals have.
“They gave me a general anaesthetic and the next thing I remember is waking up in ICU at Harefield Hospital,” she added.
While this drama unfolded, miracle baby Martha, who weighed in at a healthy 8lb 9oz, was being looked after at the RBH’s special baby care unit.
“It was such a big shock finding out about my heart problems, especially when I was so heavily pregnant. Now I really want to raise awareness of this - Peripartum Cardiomyopathy - which is a condition that comes on during pregnancy, but the 3rd trimester symptoms disguise the fact there’s anything wrong,” Laura said.
“The care I’ve had from all the doctors and nurses has been exceptional, especially when you realise just how amazingly rushed they are dealing with coronavirus. Martha is doing so well - it’s such a relief that she’s not been affected by all the drama,” she added.
Jill Ablett, Obstetrician from the RBH said: “It’s great to have such a positive outcome to what was a very serious and sudden situation. We had to do a lot of work to set up the theatre for all the medics and machinery we needed to keep Laura and her unborn baby safe.
“This is a fantastic example of partnership working, not just within teams at our Trust, but from other hospitals too. We’re all so pleased there’s been this happy ending and Laura has gone home to enjoy family life with her new baby.”