20 weeks into pregnancy Freddie was diagnosed with ParvoVirus B19 (also known as Slap Cheek). A virus quite commonly found in children which can be fatal in pregnancy.
In 20-30% of cases, ParvoVirus doesn’t show any symptoms so we didn’t know we’d caught it until a scan showed a large gathering of fluid around Freddie’s heart. The chances of catching Parvo in pregnancy is low and there is a 33% chance of passing the condition on to the baby.
When catching ParvoVirus during your first 20 weeks of pregnancy, there’s an increased risk of miscarriage. If you become infected during weeks 9 to 20 of the pregnancy, there’s also a small risk that the baby will develop fetal hydrops. This is a serious condition, where a build-up of fluid develops in the baby’s body, causing complications such as heart failure and anaemia. Some babies can recover from fetal hydrops; however, the condition can be fatal.
We found out we had Parvo at week 20, meaning we’d caught it during the increased risk timeframe. There’s a 1 in 30 chance for babies catching this virus to develop fetal hydrops, and unfortunately for us, our baby had fetal hydrops.
We were referred to the Fetal Medicine Unit (FMU) at St.Marys, Manchester, who arranged a series of scans and check-ups. From this point forward, we visited the hospital 2-3 times a week for blood tests and scans. It became apparent our baby had severe anaemia, the virus was attacking the red blood cells and bone marrow and we would require an intrauterine blood transfusion. We were informed that there is a risk of miscarriage or fetal death during this procedure, so it’s only done in particularly severe cases. For us the risk of not doing anything outweighed the risk of miscarriage, so we did the only thing we could and agreed to the transfusion.
After 3 intrauterine blood transfusions, each one having a much greater risk of miscarriage, Freddie’s condition began to improve. Under close observation the fluid started to reduce from around his heart and abdomen, and his heart structure began to return to normal.
18 weeks after being diagnosed Freddie arrived in the world, miraculously he has no further medical conditions and is a perfect healthy happy little boy!
We owe the FMU team everything, without them there is no doubt that Freddie wouldn’t be here with us now. We will be forever grateful. As a small token of our gratitude we would like to raise as many funds as possible to help increase awareness and support the Fetal Medicine Unit.
FMU receive very little funding. They have such an important role which many people aren’t aware of until they need their support.
Please donate what you can to help other families in situations like ours.
Michael, Sarah & Freddie
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