Becoming parents for the first time is something that many couples dream of. It is a time of excitement sprinkled with a little bit of anxiety. For one couple, their excitement in conceiving their first child quickly turned into a nightmare.
Hannah and Ben Day from Essex, UK, were thrilled upon hearing the news that Hannah was pregnant. They had difficulty conceiving and so opted for in vetro fertilization. Hannah became pregnant after the first try.
Everything was going well up until they hit the 36-week mark. Then both Hannah and Ben were given some difficult news.
During a scan, a defect in the heart was discovered in their unborn child. Numerous holes were found in the heart wall, a defect typically found in Down syndrome babies.
The Days were referred to a fetal-maternal medicine doctor who posed an unthinkable question. Would they consider an abortion?
“We were both taken aback. We didn’t even know abortion was an option. It was awful,” said Ben. Neither parents could imagine a 36-week termination.
Later, it was confirmed that their baby had Down syndrome. After the diagnosis, the doctor began to list all of the challenges that they would face, but the Days had already made up their minds.
“You’ve felt the baby kick, at this point you’ve had the nursery done — you are on the countdown to D-day,” said Hannah. They did not believe in abortion and knew that they would love their child no matter what the difficulties might be.
During their time in the hospital, they felt pressure and disapproval from the staff for deciding to bring a Down syndrome child into the world. But weeks later, they welcomed their daughter Iris into their lives.
They prepared themselves for the heart surgery that was due to come. The recommendation at the time was four to six months after birth, the sooner the better. As they contacted Evelina Children’s Hospital in London, they felt a lack of urgency from the facility.
The Days were given a date for surgery that hit close to the end of the recommended time frame, four and a half months later. And then the first tragedy struck as Iris became ill and surgery had to be postponed.
Just before the next surgery date, the operation was once again postponed due to a lack of hospital beds available, then again when another emergency was placed before Iris’s surgery. “I was getting quite angry. We’d been told this operation needed to be done soon,” said Ben.
But days before Iris’s next operation date, she began to develop breathing problems. Hannah and Ben stayed with her in the hospital overnight as she struggled. They decided to drive home for a short break, when they received a phone call that little Iris’s condition was grave.
When the Days returned to the hospital, Iris had died. “We feel that the majority of NHS staff who came into contact with Iris in her short life let her and us down in the worst possible way,” the parents said. An inquest has been scheduled to investigate.
It was a tragedy, and the Days were left to wonder if their beautiful daughter might have lived had she been able to have the surgery sooner. They cherish all of the memories they have of Iris.
Recently, Hannah and Ben were given another miracle when Hannah discovered that she was pregnant again. We hope this is a smooth, happy pregnancy and they don’t face the same difficulties with medical staff again.
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