Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Baby boy for swine flu mother

A pregnant woman who was flown to Sweden for life-saving treatment after contracting swine flu has had a baby boy.

Sharon Pentleton (27) feared for the health of her unborn child after she suffered an extreme reaction to the H1N1 virus.

But the baby, weighing 6lb 9oz, was successfully delivered by Caesarean section at an Ayrshire hospital.

According to reports, Ms Pentleton and her new son appear to be fit and well.

Meanwhile, expectant mothers have been told that vaccination against swine flu was “the sensible approach” after the death of a pregnant woman and her unborn child.

The 17-year-old mother-to-be, who was from the Borders, died “in the last 24 hours”, a spokesman for the Scottish Government said yesterday.\[Lucy Gollogly\]On Tuesday the Welsh Assembly announced that a 21-year-old expectant mother was one of two women with swine flu who had died.

England's Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, said the virus was mild for most people but pregnant women had a higher risk of developing complications.

“Therefore the sensible approach to reducing these risks is to get the vaccine,” he said.

“I do not want to see pregnant women dying of a preventable disease, that's the bottom line.”

Ms Pentleton, from North Ayrshire, became seriously ill in July.

She was six months pregnant when she went to Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock with severe back pain.

She was initially treated for appendicitis before being diagnosed with swine flu.

When her condition deteriorated and she slipped into a coma, doctors decided she needed a rare treatment known as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).

The highly-specialised procedure circulates the patient's blood outside the body and adds oxygen to it artificially.

It is a relatively new technique which is used when a patient's lungs are functioning very poorly even with ventilation and high levels of oxygen.

All of the UK's five ECMO beds, at the Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, were full, so she was flown to University Hospital in Stockholm for the treatment.

After returning to Britain in August, she told the BBC's Panorama she was “terrified” when she woke up covered in tubes - although she has nothing but praise for medical staff in Scotland and Sweden.

She said the reality of how sick she was only sank in when she returned home.

“I realise how close I was to not being here,” she said.

Ms Pentleton, who already has a two-year-old daughter, said she was anxious about giving birth to her son.

She said: “They told me there was nothing to worry about with him, because I was worrying about brain damage because everything that I've been through and the medication I've been on.

“But they say there's just a slight chance, they can't tell you 100%, but they say it's very unlikely that he's been damaged in any way - which is a wee miracle.”

Ms Pentleton and her family have since launched a campaign to raise money for Scotland's own dedicated adult ECMO unit.

Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon welcomed news of the new addition to Ms Pentleton's family.

She said: “I am delighted to hear that Sharon Pentleton has had a baby boy.

“She and her family have been through a traumatic time but this is wonderful news and I wish them all well for the future.”

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