A new father from Sussex has spoken of the moment he nearly lost his wife and newborn son.
A ‘traumatic experience’ turned into a ‘Christmas miracle’ and new dad, Dave Stone, 36, from Burgess Hill, said it was all down to the ‘real life angels’ of the Trevor Mann Baby Unit (TMBU) at the Royal Sussex County Hospital (RSCH) in Brighton.
On July 26, Dave and his wife Sophie, 28, went for a check-up at the doctors, due to Sophie’s blood pressure being ‘slightly elevated’ the week before.
“We walked in laughing and joking, little did we know that within a few minutes our worlds would be turned upside down and torn apart,” Dave said.
He added: “Louise, our midwife wanted to check Sophie’s blood pressure again and in doing so she saved her’s and Alfies lives.
“She sent us immediately to the Princess Royal Hospital and we were seen straight away. Soph was looking fine – she wasn’t in any pain, distress and didn’t have any physical symptoms other than puffy feet.
“This turned out to be a symptom of a condition I had never heard of – a condition that was killing her and our baby before my eyes.”
Sophie was diagnosed with Preeclampsia. This affects some pregnant women, usually during the second half of pregnancy, which can lead to serious complications if not monitored.
Symptoms include flashing lights in eyes, blurred vision, headaches and pain in the ribs, however Sophie had none of these.
The couple needed to be transferred to the RSCH, however Sophie’s blood pressure was too high.
She was eventually taken by ambulance and Dave said this was the moment that ‘the seriousness of the situation’ hit him.
He said: “I couldn’t believe what was happening and how just a few hours ago we were laughing and joking and now she was laying on the hospital bed literally looking like she was dying, and she was.
“The surgeon came in and made it clear that Sophie was in grave danger, as was Alfie and our only option was an emergency caesarean, but her blood pressure was sky high.
“I remember sitting there thinking i’ve lost them both, I honestly felt they were both going to die, she was looking terrible and the medical team looked so concerned which I knew meant the situation was a dire one.”
Sophie was soon taken in for the caesarean and Dave said his whole body was ‘trembling with fear’.
“I wanted to be there for her but I didn’t want to watch her die,” he said.
Alfie was born at just under 26 weeks weighing 1lb 4oz and and was rushed to the TMBU, so the team could work on saving his life.
Dave was soon allowed to see Alfie and said he was ‘totally petrified’ but nurses made him feel ‘comfortable and at ease’ even in such a ‘traumatic experience’.
He said: “I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Alfie for the first time, he was just so tiny I couldn’t believe he could be alive.
New mum, Sophie was too ill to see Alfie for two days after he was born, so Dave had to visit them both in separate rooms.
“I was running on adrenalin, I was so proud of them and it was made very clear that another few minutes and they both wouldn’t have made it.
Dave, a personal trainer at The Triangle in Burgess Hill, thought he had overcome the worst, however two weeks into Alfie’s life, the couple found out he had sepsis, a blood poisoning which kills thousands every year.
“Our world was falling apart again. We naively thought we were through the worst of the situation but this slapped us in the face and brought us back to reality.
The couple were housed at Ronald McDonald House, near the hospital and the pair had to endure an exhausting waiting game.
“We sat up the unit hour after hour, day after day getting more exhausted and emotional wondering if today would be the day that Alfie dies, yet I sat there watching the nurses in total awe of their skills, love and kindness,” Dave said.
He added: “They could have been going through hell in their personal lives but you would never have known it as they never showed any signs of stress, this just shows how special they are.”
Slowly but surely Alfie started to grow and was transferred to the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath.
Alfie is now home in time for Christmas and Dave said he is ‘settling in well’.
He is still on oxygen and is attached to a compressor which can be swapped to a small oxygen tank if the new parents decide to go out.
“Everyday we look at him and wonder how the hell is he still here, then we look back at the care he got a TMBU and we know it wasn’t all the prayers we were sent, it wasn’t god looking over him, it was the real life angels of the TMBU,” Dave added.
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