Christmas miracles: parents thankful for four healthy babies

Donal O’Regan

Reporter:

Donal O’Regan

AS THEY look forward to their first Christmas together the County Limerick parents of quadruplets have revealed doctors told them one of their babies would only live for a few hours.

AS THEY look forward to their first Christmas together the County Limerick parents of quadruplets have revealed doctors told them one of their babies would only live for a few hours.

James and Grace Slattery, from Caherconlish, were told 26 weeks into the pregnancy that Amelia had a condition called CDH - Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia.

“This condition gives babies a 50 per cent chance of survival but because she was a quad and would be so premature and small they told us she wouldn’t survive.

“They told us not to expect her to cry when she was born, that we wouldn’t be able to see her, and that they would try to ventilate her if they could but her lungs may not be strong enough for ventilation.

“I was told that if she could be ventilated then this would increase her chances slightly but they didn’t think any surgeon would operate on her as she’d be so small and more than likely, if we were lucky, we might have her for a few hours,” said Grace.

James and Grace had to live with this worry and knowing that every extra day they stayed in the womb increased Amelia’s chances. On top of this was the knowledge that they had previously had four miscarriages.

“Oh it was horrific, it really was. At 26 weeks you could have quads from any minute onwards. They expected me to go at any point, they never thought I’d last 33 weeks. I did ask if I managed to make it to 32 weeks even, do you think she’d survive? and I was told, ‘No, I don’t think so’,” recalled Grace.

“CDH is severe. A lot of full-term single babies don’t make it. And that’s at full-term and a big baby that has no problems and has just been growing by him or herself. Whereas these were quads. I suppose from their point of view, it did look pretty grim,” she added. However, Amelia arrived along with Lucas, Lily and Mollie by kicking and screaming the theatre down!

“We did get to see her and they did ventilate her. They operated on her in Crumlin at one week old. This is a major surgery where they had to go in through her stomach and repair the hernia.

“Basically Amelia’s stomach, spleen and bowel had gone up through the hernia into her chest cavity and pushed her heart over to the right. This stops her lungs from developing properly as there’s no room for them in the chest so all of this had to be corrected,” said Grace.

The couple were told the next 48 hours were critical. They spent every second they could by her bedside. Now Amelia screams the loudest of her siblings and weighs over a stone. While she isn’t certain Grace thinks Amelia could be the only quad ever to survive CDH.

The whole family are looking forward to a Christmas that they will never forget.

“Definitely, it will be a nice Christmas this year. All the others have been kind of horrible for the last few years,” said Grace. She spoke to the Leader as they would like to raise money for Crumlin Children’s Hospital for saving Amelia and Ronald McDonald House. As they have little or no time with four babies they are asking others who have got great care to join with them and come up with fundraising ideas. Email news@limerickleader.ie if you would like to get involved.