(By Charlotte Nisbet)
A young mum almost died just weeks after giving birth due to contracting a deadly infection during pregnancy…
Katie Shirley, 21, says she was ‘poisoned’ by her own placenta after it left her with a deadly infection that damaged the arteries in her brain.
Doctors have told the mum-of-two that she’s lucky to be alive after collapsing in her bathroom just seven weeks after giving birth to her daughter, Olivia Shirley, now one.
Shirley was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm after a CT scan and needed emergency surgery to reduce the pressure on her brain as it had already ruptured.
After spending two days in intensive care, and a further six days in hospital, Shirley was allowed home and was told by doctors that she was ‘lucky to be alive to tell the tale.’
She is now sharing her story for the first time to raise awareness of post-partum subarachnoid haemorrhage – a life-threatening type of stroke which was caused by a ruptured aneurysm.
Shirley, who works in customer services, said: “I’m so lucky to be alive after developing a brain aneurysm.
“Post-partum subarachnoid haemorrhage”
Shirley was officially diagnosed with a post-partum subarachnoid haemorrhage after she’d recovered from my ordeal two weeks later. She had a normal pregnancy apart from having anaemia but when she reached 36 weeks, she started bleeding heavily.
“My mum, Caroline Shirley, 38, was at my side constantly and thankfully doctors realised I needed an emergency c-section as my baby was in danger.
Shirley’s daughter, Olivia, was born two and a half weeks early on 7 December 2018 and treated for an infection as Shirley’s placenta had already decayed.
“If we’d waited a few days later she might not have made it as they had no idea how she was even getting any nutrients from the placenta.
Something was wrong
However, despite Olivia receiving anti-biotics and improving each day, Shirley says she “felt awful” and knew something was terribly wrong with her own body.
“This was just the start of my ordeal as on 27 January, I collapsed on the bathroom floor while on the phone to my mum as I suffered my first seizure.”
But it wasn’t until second seizure in hospital that a second CT scan found that the aneurysm in her brain had ruptured.
“I remember feeling as though I was going to have a panic attack, my heart was racing and I felt all of my sense heightening,” says Shirley. “It was terrifying but before I knew it the room had gone black and I was unconscious.”
CT scan showed aneurysm
“After this doctors finally realised something sinister was going on, I’m just so thankful to my mum as at one point, after my first seizure, I was being advised to go home before we pushed for the first CT scan which showed the aneurysm.
Shirley underwent lifesaving brain surgery to insert an aneurysm coil on 28 January to stop it from bleeding and she’s been fine ever since.
“I feel very lucky to have been in hospital when it happened and I’m very grateful to the NHS.”
Infections of the placenta could be life threatening
Shirley has decided to share her story for the first time as she had no idea that infections from the placenta could lead to something life threatening.
She added: “It’s hard to imagine both Olivia and my eldest daughter, Esmae, two, without their mum.
“I’m a single parent and if any positives are to come from this experience it’s that other new parents are more aware of post-partum subarachnoid haemorrhages.
“I didn’t even know that a brain aneurysms could be caused by infections until it happened to me.
“I just want others to always push for tests if they feel something isn’t right.
“I could have lost Olivia or my own life if I hadn’t of pushed for a c-section and more tests for myself after my first seizure at home.
“Thankfully since my last seizure in January I haven’t had any more and we’re all looking forward to Christmas this year.
Shirley now has to go for brain scans every six months as the brain aneurysm is still there, it has just been stabilised by the coil.