A woman whose son recently settled a €1.5million High Court case is campaigning for routine pregnancy scans that could potentially save babies’ lives and save them from significant brain damage
Maria Meehan (44) from North Dublin gave birth to their son Ricci (10) in July 2012. However, she suffered from vasa previa, a rare pregnancy complication which she believes led to neurological impairment in her son.
Ms Meehan said she would “give all the money in the world” for her son to have a “normal life”. Instead, she is forced to watch her beloved son suffer “torment” on a daily basis.
Vasa previa is a rare condition of pregnancy in which blood vessels that connect the umbilical cord are located above or near the entrance to the birth canal.
Blood vessels can rupture during labor, causing severe blood loss to the fetus or death. It occurs in about 1 in 2,500 deliveries.
However, there is currently no routine screening for the condition at the 20-week anomaly scan. Ricci has autism, ADHD and dyspraxia. He regularly suffers from “meltdowns”. The “pretty” child with a “beautiful smile” is also unable to interact with other children, his mother said.
He often “punches and kicks” his mother. In June, Ricci settled a claim in the High Court through his mother for a €1.5million interim payment. The settlement against Rotunda Hospital was finalized with no admission of liability.
I feel like my life has stopped. I don’t want other women to have to go through this
It has been claimed that four ultrasounds performed during Ms. Meehan’s pregnancy failed to diagnose vasa previa.
Ms Meehan believes the condition led to the difficult pregnancy and delivery. She, along with her medical negligence attorney Michael Boylan, is now lobbying for the condition to be routinely assessed at 20 weeks.
Ricci had to be resuscitated several times during labor, Ms Meehan said. When he was a toddler, it became clear that the boy suffered from a neurological impairment.
“Sometimes Ricci won’t leave the house for a week out of fear. It’s hell getting him ready for school every morning,” she said. “Ricci cries, kicks, hits me. He goes into a meltdown and is able to destroy the apartment by trying to destroy things.
“I love my son. It was a miracle that he survived. But life is incredibly hard. I feel like my life stopped. I don’t want other women to go through this.”
The mother said she knew “something was wrong” during her pregnancy when she “lost blood” and was in “excruciating pain”. She “bled profusely” during labor and recalls “going into shock” when her baby was born and “repeatedly resuscitated.”
He’s been on like 10 or 11 different drugs just to try to calm him down
Ms Meehan said if the HSE introduced regular vasa previa screening during 20 weeks of ultrasounds, the condition could be detected.
“Ricci will never be like other kids. His behavior was so bad. He was on about 10 or 11 different medications just to try to calm him down,” Ms Meehan said. “Ricci will receive private therapy from the settlement money, but we have yet to access it.”
Michael Boylan, who represented the family during the High Court proceedings, has written to Health Secretary Stephen Donnelly calling for screening to be introduced.
“It won’t take a lot of money or time to do it. It will spare misery, death and morbidity,” Boylan said.
He said it is “an appalling tragedy every year” that women and babies suffer, when the condition “could be cured just by this simple screening”.
An HSE spokesman said an Irish national clinical guideline on ultrasound screening was “now in development”.
“The guideline is expected to be finalized later this year and will then address and define what clinically comprises routine analysis of anatomy scans in Ireland,” added the spokesperson.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/its-a-miracle-my-son-survived-but-life-is-incredibly-hard-mum-calls-for-routine-screening-for-rare-birth-condition-42007944.html ‘It’s a miracle my son survived but life is incredibly tough’ – mom calls for routine screening for rare birth diseases