One mum's hope from tragedy: ‘I hope Isabella can save others heartache’

A mother whose newborn daughter died from a rare congenital heart defect which went undetected during pregnancy has urged expectant mums to ask for detailed scans.
One mum's hope from tragedy: ‘I hope Isabella can save others heartache’

Jazmine Sands, from Killorglin, Co Kerry, said she hopes her decision to speak out will spare others the heartbreak her family has suffered.

“Isabella was here for a short time but she has moved us and touched so many hearts. I feel she was sent here for a reason — to make a change,” she said.

“She left an imprint and I am trying to turn this negative into a positive.

“Every pregnant woman should be entitled to a detailed scan, whether they go public or private. They should be routine and free. I want to work with the health system to make this change.”

Isabella was born by emergency C-section in Kerry General Hospital on May 23 last.

“Everything was perfect at first, but we were told a short time later that she had a slight heart murmur and that she was being rushed to Crumlin,” Jazmine said.

Her partner, Kevin Sheehan, followed the ambulance to Dublin and was told that scans had revealed his daughter had hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which affects normal blood flow through the heart, and other heart complications.

Images of her heart were sent to experts in London’s Great Ormond Street who were amazed that Isabella was still alive.

Jazmine then rushed to Dublin where doctors told her and Kevin that nothing could be done to save Isabella, and to prepare for her to pass in her own time.

Isabella died days later in Jazmine’s arms. Her parents say they will always cherish photographs, arranged by the hospital, which were taken in the moments afterwards.

Jazmine began blogging about her experience this week and said her ultimate goal is to encourage expectant mothers to ask for detailed scans during pregnancy, so that possible heart defects can be identified.

“Preparation would have helped us cope with the fact that we wouldn’t be bringing her home the way we did, and would have helped us explain everything to Isabella’s brother, Keelin,” she said. “In our case, nothing could have been done to save Isabella, but if detailed scans are done, and defects are identified, then maybe something can be done for others.”

Jazmine said she has received incredible support from Glow Hearts 4 Crumlin, which helps parents of children who have undergone open heart surgery, and which strives to raise awareness of congenital heart defects.

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