Patient Stories:Shauna Kelly

When I was diagnosed with placenta accreta spectrum I didn’t know what to expect.

It can be an emotional and overwhelming time for mums as many are also considering the practical implications of being a long stay patient in hospital. This video captures the emotional journey that many mums find themselves on. We hope it helps you understand your journey.

I received a Placenta Accreta diagnosis at an early 7-week scan on my fourth pregnancy in 2017. We had three children, Jack was turning 7, Beth 4 and our precious baby Scout was stillborn full term in 2016. Our hearts had been broken. Although we had to consider termination for my safety, our hearts wouldn’t allow us to take this route.

We found out we were having a girl and we named her Darcie.

I suffered numerous bleeds and each time thought I was losing Darcie. I was admitted to the National Maternity Hospital at 21 weeks +5 after heart breaking goodbyes with my husband and children. A couple of days after admission a scan revealed that I had seriously low amniotic fluid in my placenta and it was feared a small tear had occurred, this remained low for many weeks and our baby’s development was of huge concern.

My long stay in hospital was full of terror and isolation. But I had an amazing group of women in my room with threatening conditions and we all supported each other. We kept our curtains open and the days usually passed quickly with lots of laughs thrown in! I was lucky to live locally so my friends and family visited me every day, and supported Stephen juggling all that was necessary with me away. I was distraught every time my children visited and had to leave again. And the guilt I felt was overwhelming.

At 27 weeks +6, I was transferred to St Vincent’s Hospital for my surgery. I remained awake for 2 ¾ hours for preparatory work; a spinal / epidural, arterial line placed in my wrist, Intervention Radiology inserted balloons into my veins to be inflated to minimise bleeding, Urologists inserted stents to prevent injury to my bladder. I then received a general anaesthetic and went to sleep. I was in theatre for over 8 hours and lost 6 litres of blood; some of which was filtered and transfused back into me with a cell saver machine, I also received a few litres of donated blood. I had a total hysterectomy.

Darcie was alive but we were warned that her first week would be crucial to her survival, threats included a bleed on her brain, immature lungs not functioning or infection. She grew every day and was eventually discharged from NICU 7.5 weeks later.

Darcie has recently turned 2 and is amazing and perfect. Professor Donal Brennan and his team saved both our lives and we will be forever grateful for the unbelievable standard of care we received. My experience in Unit 3 pre surgery was one of compassion, empathy and dignity. And the team in NICU looked after Darcie so well.

I am still processing all I have been through 2 years later and there have been tough times along with overwhelming feelings of gratitude and enjoyment of my children. Being part of the set-up of Placenta Accreta Ireland and an advocate for patients and survivors has allowed me to give back and has also proved to be very cathartic. Not all Accreta patients have positive outcomes but with continuing research and support to patients and survivors, we can make a difference.