|Me, pregnant with Ben,
two days after the transfusion
Thankfully, a surgeon was able to perform a foetal blood transfusion when I was 18 weeks pregnant, reversing the very dangerous symptoms the baby was displaying.
Baby Benjamin was born safe and well with no further complications in December 2012.
Now I want to raise awareness about the dangers of Slapped Cheek Disease by sharing my story, as well as medical advice and information, here on this page of my blog.
When I was researching the disease, after I’d become aware that there’d been a case at my son’s nursery, I found lots of basic medical advice, but only one real life case. This helped me enormously, and I’d like my story to be out there for others to benefit from.
A lot of the advice you read says that most adults have already had the disease and are immune. In fact it is around 60 per cent of adults – not most – so it is always worth being tested.
Medical advice also tends to be that it is very unlikely that the disease will pass to the baby, and I was discouraged from starting scans straight after I contracted it. But the fact that I pushed for them meant that the baby’s symptoms were picked up in time.
I read a few discussion threads on parenting sites and people made comments like “If the disease passes to the baby they sometimes do a blood transfusion in the womb. I don’t even want to think about how they do that”.
This lack of knowledge and information, I worry, creates fear and possibly in some cases a reluctance to seek help. In fact, the foetal blood transfusion was very similar to an amniocentesis – a needle into the stomach with some anaesthetic on the skin. At 18 weeks it was a risky procedure, and a very difficult one to choose to take, but in our case it went very well, the baby coped well with it and responded well to it.
And here he is on the right with his baby brother, Benjamin, who was born fit and well with no further complications following the blood transfusion
Here is the full story, as covered in the press:
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You'll find NHS advice here and also some more detailed articles at www.patient.co.uk
The other thing that really concerns me is the varying levels to which schools communicate cases of slapped cheek to those at risk. We were so lucky that the fantastic nursery my son attended - Cliffe House Day Nursery in Horsforth, Leeds, put a sign up informing parents there had been a case and advising pregnant women to seek medical advice. But recently, I've heard of schools in our area which have in one case point blank refused to inform parents for fear of causing 'unnecessary alarm' and another where the staff were unaware of the risk to unborn babies.
After speaking to no fewer than nine departments in or connected to Leeds City Council, I discovered that, worryingly, there's no way that the Health Protection Agency can enforce any kind of guidelines for procedure in schools. A nurse for the agency told me: "We have sent every school a poster and guidelines, ideally all schools should be aware but we can't make them read it."
So please help me try and get the message out there by sharing this page or spreading the word.