LISTEN: Cork mum who lost son an hour after birth calls for wider access to anomaly scans

A Cork mother who sadly lost her son an hour after he was born has called for anomaly scans to be made available to all expectant parents.

LISTEN: Cork mum who lost son an hour after birth calls for wider access to anomaly scans

A Cork mother who sadly lost her son an hour after he was born has called for anomaly scans to be made available to all expectant parents.

Diane Magee from Tower, Co Cork shared her tragic story in hope that other parents could avoid a similar experience. Her son, Christopher, was born a year and three months ago when she was 32 weeks pregnant. He was born with his bowels outside his body, extra fingers, and a nose that was a little out of place.

Diane did not receive an anomaly scan, which is offered to private patients at 20 weeks and checks that the baby is developing normally. She was unaware of any issues with her preganancy before Christopher's birth.

Diane contacted her doctor when she "didn't feel happy with the kicks" she was feeling.

Hours after attending Cork University Maternity Hospital, she delivered baby Christopher, who was born with a number of serious health issues.

"We found out months afterwards with the post mortem that he had a foetal abnormality," she told Neil Prendeville on Cork's RedFM. Christopher lived for over an hour, enough time for Diane to recover consciousness and meet her son.

"He hung on to meet his mummy. I was asleep for the first half an hour for Christopher's life and he lived for just over an hour. My husband had him in his arms and he had the awful ordeal of telling me when I woke up that I had a beautiful baby boy, but he wasn't going to live long.

"It was a shock, and there, that's where my story starts."

Diane described the conflicting emotions both she, her husband, and their extended families felt following Christopher's short life.

"He brought us so much happiness. We had him for four or five days afterwards, we had a funeral for him and he filled the North Cathedral and the bishop came. We made a really good positive experience out of it and treasured every moment of him.

"We think about him all the time, but to be honest I'm selfish. I wish he was here now but he would have been a very sick child and no mum would want that for their child. He's in no pain where he is."

Diane is determined to alert more parents about the risks of not getting an anomaly scan - which she had never heard of before Christopher was born.

"I should have done more, I should have asked more questions. I didn't ask questions, I didn't even ask close friends of mine. I didn't know about the scan, and every mother should get that scan, it should be such a basic."

Diane expressed her frustration with the current health system, which, she feels, lets down expectant parents.

"It shouldn't happen. I definitely think there is a frustrastion that this scan should be given to every mother."

Despite her heartbreak, Diane is grateful for every moment she shared with baby Christopher.

"I wouldn't have changed my story with Christopher. I've had miscarriages, I know the pain of them. This is very separate. It's hard enough for people to get pregnant and it's hard enough to get the child into the world, but I just feel the way it happened for me, it happened for a reason. I've got to believe in that, because if I don't I'll be very angry.

"I was planning ahead, I had all my dreams and hopes ahead.

"I have a good belief. I know when I get up to heaven - and I hope I will get to heaven - that I'll have my baby in my arms. I will cuddle him, I will kiss him, I will tell him I love him for the rest of my life."

In cases of major foetal abnormality, the anomaly scan allows parents to prepare psychologically for the birth and loss of a baby, rather than finding out in the delivery suite.

Parents of babies born with health issues could plan appropriate care for their child in advance. Hospital staff would also have advance warning of a difficult delivery.

Some conditions that can be detected by an anomaly scan include:

  • Spina bifida
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Down syndrome
  • Major heart problems
  • Anencephaly
  • Cleft lip
  • Exomphalos/ Gastroschisi
  • Major kidney problems

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