In 2012, Michaela and Christopher were at their 20-week ultrasound patiently waiting to find out if they were having a boy or a girl. However, instead of finding out the sex of their baby they were told that their child had some very serious health problems and that they should consider abortion.
Michaela explained, “As we went for our routine 20 week scan we were excited to find out if it was definitely a girl we were having, it was the happiest day of our lives after having our two sons Kaiden (4) and Bayley (2). We were scanned for a couple of hours. We were getting worried as they then told us that our little baby had severe heart defects and would need full open-heart surgery if born healthy enough. Our whole world came crashing down. We were also told that she would have a 1 in 10 chance of Down syndrome and also possible Cystic Fibrosis.”
Although doctors can usually treat the health problems associated with Down syndrome and Cystic Fibrosis after birth, their physicians said that combined with heart problems their child wouldn’t survive past 21-weeks in the womb. Unfortunately, they also really pushed the couple to have an abortion by reminding them that their child had a grim future.
Michaela said, “At 20 weeks we were given three weeks to decide to carry on with the pregnancy or terminate it as we were told she wouldn’t make it anyways. We were offered a CVS test to rule out Down syndrome – but we declined that as we were told it had a 5% miscarriage rate with the problems our baby had. We also had blood tests to rule out Cystic Fibrosis which was negative.” She added, “Every week were told the pros and cons but I ignored it, I knew she’d be OK.”
Thankfully, Michaela and her husband refused abortion and welcomed their daughter, Keira, into the world in March 2013. She was delivered a week earlier than planned but initially everything looked okay. Then, nine minutes after birth, Keira’s heart stopped and doctors scrambled to get her heart functioning again.
Michaela said, “…At nine minutes old our baby girl was rushed to PICU with severe repertory distress and passed away for 25 minutes as they tried to give her a heart massage and CPR to get her back. After a long 25 minutes they managed to bring her back & performed an emergency septostomy procedure at 40 minutes old where they insert a balloon catheter through her valves in the heart to keep it open for the time being until her full open heart surgery.”
Remarkably, Keira survived it all and is a healthy toddler reaching all the milestones of most children her age.
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Mrs Robertson, 23, said: “She’s doing everything she should be doing. She’s sitting up and rolling, quicker than her brothers did. And she doesn’t have Down’s syndrome or cystic fibrosis.”
Mrs Robertson, who has two other children, Kaiden, four, and Bayley, two, discovered her daughter had transposition of the major arteries halfway through her pregnancy. She also had two holes in her heart and narrowing of the heart valves.
She was told Keira would weigh only about 4lb at birth, but when she was born by caesarean section at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow on March 28, she weighed a healthy 8lb 5oz.
Then at nine minutes old her heart stopped and doctors spent the next 25 minutes battling to bring her back to life. Mrs Robertson, said: “The doctors told us she probably won’t make it. How do you react to someone telling you your baby is going to die? It just didn’t sink in.”
Doctors were on the verge of giving up but, at 24 minutes, they gave her one last chance and her heart began to work. Six minutes later, doctors carried out an emergency operation to keep the arteries in her heart open.
Her body temperature was also cooled to just 24C to reverse any brain damage as it had been starved of oxygen for so long. At eight days old she then had a 10-hour open heart surgery to correct the wrong-way-round arteries, two holes in her heart and widen the pulmonary valves.
Mrs Robertson said: “A few days later she opened her eyes for the first time and I finally got to hold her. It was such an emotional day.”