A woman has told how she came close to dying alongside with her unborn baby while heavily pregnant after her womb exploded.
Claire Gaylor, 37, from Welwyn Garden, Hertfordshire, was 30-weeks pregnant when she was diagnosed with placenta percreta.
The life-threatening condition occurs when a placenta grows too deeply into womb muscle.
This causes excessive bleeding and premature births.
But the full-time mum-of-three has made a miraculous recovery after spending 10 days being treated for heartburn before doctors realised what was behind her agony.
Claire slipped unconscious as her health deteriorated and her baby boy, Cody, stopped breathing twice from swallowing so much blood.
He was eventually delivered by emergency caesarean.
Her heartbroken husband, Matt, 39, was told to prepare himself for the worst as both his son and wife fought for their lives.
Thankfully Claire awoke after being ventilated for five days but had no recollection of her ordeal or that she’d already had her baby.
Doctors had to perform a hysterectomy to save Claire’s life – they have both since made a full recovery from the ordeal in 2014 and are sharing their story to help others.
Claire said: “By the time doctors realised what was happening I was hours from death.
“I slipped into a coma after being in agonising pain for 10 days, when I woke up I was no longer pregnant with Cody, he had been born via caesarean.
“My husband, Matt, even named him before I woke up in intensive care five-days later.
“I couldn’t believe how close I had come to losing my life and my baby, it’s so scary to think that our future could have been snatched away by this rare condition.
“Matt was told to say his final goodbyes to both me and Cody at one point, I can’t even imagine how awful that must have been for him.
“We are incredibly lucky to have both survived, I even had six blood transfusions after internally bleeding.
When Claire fell pregnant with Cody at the end of 2013, she was overwhelmed with both shock and worry. “We were so grateful that we were able to take our boy home nine-weeks later.”
She added: “I was diagnosed with Asherman’s Syndrome after having my two older girls who are 11 and 15, which causes scar tissue on the womb.
“It had caused irregular bleeding and after an internal abrasion doctors explained that having another baby would be impossible.
“So when I found out I was pregnant years later, I was filled with both worry and excitement.
“I was worried how Asherman’s could affect my pregnancy but I was reassured that everything was completely normal at my scans.
“My pregnancy was pure bliss until 28-weeks when I started suffering from horrendous pain above my stomach and chest.
“I had no idea this syndrome can be linked to such a life-threatening rare complication such as placenta percreta.
“Doctors put my symptoms down to severe heart burn and I was given oral morphine to ease the pain.
“But when I took a turn for the worst while still in hospital I was wheeled down to the delivery suite.
“I quickly passed out and it was only when I was opened up that doctors realised the seriousness of my condition.”
Claire was in a coma for five-days as her baby fought for his life.
Cody had to be resuscitated twice after he was born due to swallowing so much blood while in the womb.
She said: “I couldn’t believe how much he had been through, he was such a little fighter and really is our little miracle.
“Even doctors were baffled by how we had both survived, so much so that my medical records are now being used to train new doctors who deal with this condition.”
Placenta percreta occurs when all or part of the placenta attaches abnormally to the muscle wall of the womb.
And while it is rare, it is life-threatening to both mother and baby.
Claire said: “My placenta had ripped through the muscles in my womb at 28-weeks and it felt like my womb was popping, when it did actually happen at 30-weeks, I was left fighting for my life.
“I’m still in shock now when I think back to all we have been through but I hope my story comes as a warning to other women, especially to those who have conditions such as Asherman’s which thins the lining of the womb.”
Cody is now 19 months old and is hitting all his milestones despite only weighing 3lb 14oz when first born.
Claire added: “We couldn’t be more proud of Cody and he is such a little miracle that we feel incredibly lucky that we were able to walk out of that hospital as a complete family.”
Gina Walker, the Founder from Hope for Accreta Foundation – a charitable organisation that provides research, said: “Accreta is the abnormal attachment of the placenta onto the uterus, and in more severe forms into the uterine muscle attaching itself to nearby organs in search of an adequate blood supply.
“Accreta carries a 7% mortality rate, and is the top cause for maternal hemorrhage.
“We aim to “Bring Hope to Life” by joining women from around the globe in solidarity to make a difference and impact the future of new mothers.”