Family Stories

Randika and Paul

Randika and her husband Paul both have a form of restricted growth, commonly known as dwarfism, which for Randika means that carrying a baby and giving birth is more high risk.

The couple have been trying for a baby for five years and after experiencing three miscarriages, they are now further into pregnancy than ever before.

“Dear darling baby, it’s week 27 and this is the longest I’ve ever been pregnant,” says Randika in the episode. “Today we are going to find out if you’ve inherited the same condition as me, a form of dwarfism called achondroplasia.”

Randika and Paul visit St George’s fetal medicine unit for a scan where their baby is diagnosed with the same condition.

A natural delivery would be too dangerous for Randika and her baby, so the team need to monitor the pregnancy closely to plan a caesarean section for the safest time.

In the episode, Randika and Paul’s baby is born safely at St George’s.

Randika said: “Emily is nearly a year old now. She is happy, witty and a very determined girl. We can already see a stubborn personality in her (wonder where she gets that from!) and she is already beginning to show a can-do attitude. She enjoys the company of other children and greets everyone with a smile.

“Emily continues to be our little miracle who surprises us every day and we are so proud of her. We are so grateful to Professor Basky and his team for their kindness and supporting us through our pregnancy journey with Emily. Thank you for helping us to make our wish come true, which at one point we thought would not happen.”

Ann-Marie and Paul

Ann-Marie and her partner Paul are twenty-six weeks pregnant with identical twins. Anne-Marie had been pregnant with triplets, but sadly one of the babies passed away at week nine.

In the episode, Anne-Marie shows us the images from her 12-week scan and explains: “We found out we were pregnant very, very early on. This is the 12-week scan; this was where they found out we were having triplets. And actually at that scan we found out one of them had passed away.

“It’s definitely emotional, because you’ll have to explain it to them at some point, that because they’re all identical she was going to look exactly like you.”

A scan at St George’s fetal medicine until shows one of Anne-Marie’s twins has a condition called Selective Growth Restriction and isn’t getting all the nutrients and oxygen it needs to grow; it is half the size of the larger twin and is at risk of dying.

Ann-Marie and her partner Paul visit St George’s three times a week so that our teams can keep a close eye on the twins, however, at 27 weeks they find out that the smaller twin has sadly passed away.

Losing a baby at any stage of pregnancy can be devastating, and as Professor Basky explains to Ann-Marie and Paul, no one is to blame: “You could not have known that was going to happen, and we could not have known that was going to happen.”

Ann-Marie and Paul’s surviving twin is anemic and receives a blood transfusion, where blood is given through a thin needle into the vein of the baby’s umbilical cord.

At week 30 of her pregnancy, Ann-Marie goes into early labour and delivers both twins; firstly Emily, their baby who has passed away, followed by Poppy.

Ann-Marie said: “Poppy is eight months old now (six months corrected), she has grown from 3lbs 4oz at birth to 14lbs 12oz. She’s getting so strong with aided sitting and standing. She smiles constantly and loves to play with everyone around her. Her favourite colour is yellow and she loves to play with her birdie toy or a packet of Quavers. She’s enjoying exploring food but mostly loves any fruit, especially apples.

“We say good morning and good night to her sister Emily every day because whenever we look in the mirror she’s there too, Poppy’s identical twin sister.

“It still continues to be a daily challenge for myself and Paul to come to terms with the loss of Emily. We battle two polarised sets of emotions daily, joy and happiness in Poppy with her development and progress, but also intense sadness of life without Emily. We have faith that in time we will find peace.”

Becky and Richard

Becky and Richard have been referred to St George’s fetal medicine unit after a scan at their local hospital revealed that, at nineteen weeks into the pregnancy, their baby had developed an extremely rare lung tumour.

The tumour is growing rapidly, putting pressure on both the baby’s heart and lungs causing it to go into heart failure.

At St George’s, Professor Basky Thilaganathan and the team delicately laser a blood vessel which is feeding the tumour, in order to stop it growing and relieve pressure on the baby’s heart and lungs.

As the team prepare to carry out the procedure, Professor Basky explains how small the baby’s tumour is: “It’s about the size of a Malteser and the blood vessel is less than the thickness of a matchstick.”

Following the procedure, Richard says: “At least we’ve given her a chance. It just feels like there is something to hold on to now, to hope.”

The surgery was successful and their baby girl, Annie, was born healthy at their local hospital.

Becky said: “Annie is now a very happy, healthy almost six-month-old. She’s loving starting to taste new foods and is always laughing, especially at her older brother who adores her just like we all do.

“Annie’s CCAM [tumour] is taking up a small area of her lung but so far she has been asymptomatic and is being closely monitored. We are so blessed to have Annie and are so very grateful for the care, kindness and excellence that is Professor Basky and the team at St George’s Hospital, she wouldn’t be here without them and we wouldn’t be a family of four without her.”