The Families

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Baby Henry Cameron

Baby Henry Cameron ^|^ – Son of Daren & Natalie Samat

As I write this account, I can only hope that by reading it, someone else’s baby might be saved and his/her parents will spared the heartbreak that my husband, Daren, and I have suffered.

The condition of Vasa Previa (praevia) has robbed us of our beautiful baby boy, our first child and we will never be the same again. We miss him so desperately. We just wish that one of the medical staff treating us had had the foresight to scan me for this condition.

I now know that a 30 second transvaginal scan using colour Doppler would have diagnosed this condition during my pregnancy. Had that been done, our son would, in all probability, be here today. The death of our beautiful baby boy was an avoidable tragedy.

Background – Fertility Treatment

Daren and I had longed for a baby for a very long time. I underwent various fertility treatments over a period of 4 years. None of these treatments were successful and eventually we were advised to undergo IVF treatment. We were told that was our last resort. We had our worries about IVF, but our longing for a baby was so strong that we decided to go ahead.

I attended for my first IVF cycle and scan before Christmas in 2004. Unfortunately I was told I had a cyst and therefore I was unable to go ahead with IVF at that time. I therefore waited until the following January and received the good news that I could now go ahead with IVF treatment as the cyst had disappeared.

We were truly blessed to have success on our first attempt at IVF. They managed to harvest 10 eggs, which is a wonderful amount. 8 of them were fertilised which was just fantastic. They were able to let the embryos develop to the Blastocsyst stage and the “best” two embryos were implanted on day 6. It was then an anxious wait until we could carry out the pregnancy test.

The test was due a couple of days after our tenth wedding anniversary. We were thrilled to discover that I was pregnant. We had gone through so much to get to this point so we tried not to get too excited until we had the 6 week scan at the hospital to confirm that a heart beat was present or possibly two heartbeats!

At that first scan we were absolutely overjoyed to see one little heartbeat fluttering on the screen. Although IVF treatment is unpleasant, the reward after a successful attempt is worth every part of the process. Nonetheless, we kept our excitement to ourselves as we were well aware that there are many things that can go wrong in the early days.

I went back for another scan at the IVF hospital at week 10. All was well and the baby now looked, well, like a baby shape! They discharged me after that scan and wished me all the best.

I had tried to see whether I could continue my care with that hospital and in particular with the Consultant who had been responsible for my care until that date. I was happy to do this privately as we had indeed paid privately for my care up until that point, however I was told the hospital rarely look after patients throughout their pregnancy and as I did not live in their area (central London) it was more usual for me to take up pregnancy care in my local area, with a local hospital. I must say that after 4 years of receiving fertility treatment it was a little strange to be outside of their care, however I was reassured that my pregnancy would be like any other and there was no reason for me to be treated any differently. (I now know that conception via IVF treatment forms one of the risk groups for Vasa Previa, of course I did not know this back then and it was not in any of the literature I was given).

As an aside, in the time that has passed I have questioned whether IVF was the right thing to do. Are you interfering with nature?, and all the other arguments etc. I now realise that, without it, we would not have met our most precious and beautiful son. With his creation our lives were changed forever. We were blessed to have met such a beautiful and brave baby boy and to be his mummy and daddy. I have poly cystic ovaries and I underwent over 4 years of unsuccessful fertility treatment. I do believe that our only chance to become parents was through IVF and although my heart is now broken I would not have missed the chance to have met and loved Henry.

Early pregnancy

My pregnancy progressed very easily in the first 11 weeks. I was pleased that I did not suffer from morning sickness. I just felt very hungry all the time and tired! I slept for hours on end. I just willed myself to get to 12 weeks and then we would be able to share our exciting news. Everyone always warns you not to get too excited during those 12 weeks as so much can go wrong.

Bleeding in pregnancy

Just after 11 weeks I started to suffer from painless bleeding. It started with a very small amount of old blood and then it became much more. We were obviously very anxious about this bleeding and we feared that it was a sign of miscarriage.

We went to the A & E department of our local hospital and we were told that if it was a miscarriage “..there was nothing that could be done..”. The doctor was probably right, but he was very blunt, blunt to the point of being rude and insensitive. These were very frightening times for us and we were panicked. Daren read every book we had, all the “ parents to be” books, to include; “ what to expect ” and Dr Miriam Stoppard’s book, to name but a few. Sadly Vasa Previa was not mentioned in any of those books. We did not know that I ticked most of the boxes for most, if not all of the warning signs and/or risk factors for the condition.

Because the bleeding was so heavy we had to attend the hospital twice on that Saturday. I cried buckets of tears and was so very worried.

We went back on the Sunday for a trans-vaginal scan and to our great relief we saw a heartbeat. The hospital does not carry out scans at weekends but thankfully we were able to find a doctor who would scan me on the Sunday. We were so relieved that the heartbeat was still present. Though this was a transvaginal scan, no effort was made to do anything other than look for a heartbeat or to look for the cause of the bleeding.

Our relief was again shattered when I lost a lot of blood on the same Sunday evening and so we went again to hospital on the Monday morning. Again I underwent a scan, this time an abdominal scan, and again thankfully the heartbeat was present. This time they said that the scan showed an area of bleeding, but they did not understand what was causing it.

It is a sad fact that in the UK , obstetric “professionals” seem happy to leave bleeding in pregnancy as undiagnosed, in the hope that it will resolve itself. “..Bleeding in pregnancy is normal..” we were told. We have come to realise that what they meant was bleeding is relatively common – it is not of course NORMAL and should never be treated as such.

I next attended, at 12 weeks, for a private nuchal scan. That day the baby was laying in a difficult position for them to scan, but they eventually managed to do so and confirmed that all seemed well. I told them I was suffering from bleeding but as I was there for the nuchal scan only, they did not investigate the cause of the bleeding.

I went about my normal routine but the bleeding did not subside. In the end I was admitted to hospital to be monitored. This was only after I had lost a significant amount of blood. I now know that the blood lost should have been tested to see whether it was fetal blood. This was never done and no one suggested that it should have been done.

I was continually told that I should not worry. I was constantly told that “..bleeding in pregnancy was normal..”, and that it would hopefully stop by 20 weeks, and so when the bleeding seemed to resolve itself by then I had no reason to doubt them. How wrong we all were.

In the interim I had been so worried that I spoke to my IVF Consultant about the bleeding and she told me that it was probably the other embryo, which had not survived, being expelled.

I had also spoken to a Consultant at my NHS hospital. He told me everything would be fine but in any event that there was nothing that could be done until I reached the 24 week stage. He offered me the chance to attend a private “reassurance scan” at 18 weeks, which I duly did. He scanned me abdominally, thoroughly, or so I thought, and told me that all seemed well. By then the bleeding had just about stopped.

To be fair as things progressed, there were some days where I lost no blood or a very small amount of old brown blood, however on other days I lost large quantities of fresh bright red blood. This continued until about 18 weeks plus a few days, and so when finally there was no obvious bleeding, we were reassured that perhaps we (Daren and I) had been a little “hyper” about the whole thing.

Mid – Late Pregnancy & Further signs of Vasa Previa

Though we suspected something was wrong, we were always relieved to be told by a number of medics that bleeding in pregnancy is quite normal and that we should not worry. We now know that this is incorrect, but at the time we had no reason to question this.