A U.K. mother was left paralyzed from the pelvis down after receiving a routine epidural injection while giving birth to her firstborn child.
Irrum Jetha, 34, gave birth to her daughter, Amelie, on Aug. 29, 2014, at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London, the Daily Mail reported.
Jetha had a pulmonary heart valve replaced when she was 19. The epidural was given to reduce the potential strain on her heart.
“The birth itself was a fabulous experience,” Jetha told the Daily Mail. “I was euphoric afterwards. And when Adam cried ‘It’s a girl’ we were both in tears.”
But the euphoria quickly turned into panic as Jetha had no feeling in her legs hours after giving birth.
“They reassured me it was normal, but I was very uneasy,” Jetha recalled.
The following day, around 5 p.m., Jetha said she and doctors became seriously concerned.
“The doctors were now saying that Irrum should be able to get up,” said Adam, who is a researcher at Imperial College in London. “I began to get seriously worried because she still had no feeling. Suddenly everyone seemed to be in panic mode. It all became very scary.”
Jetha was transferred to Charing Cross, another hospital just a few miles away. The transfer took four hours.
At Charing Cross, doctors discovered that Jetha suffered a rare epidural hematoma. The injection caused a blood clot to compress her spinal cord, leaving her paralyzed.
Jetha underwent hours of life-threatening emergency surgery to take the pressure off her spinal cord. Adam had to leave his newborn daughter in one hospital to be with his wife in another.
“Even though I was frantically worried, I was thinking about Amelie all the time,” Jetha explained.
Jetha eventually came home just before Christmas 2014. She remains paralyzed to this day. Her lawyer, Laura Craig, is investigating whether delays in treatment, along with the epidural, contributed to her current condition.
It has been a huge struggle. I’m in a lot of pain and I don’t feel confident enough to leave the house in my chair alone. At times I feel so very useless.
Obviously I can’t go back to my old job as I was on my feet all day in the laboratory. And Adam has had to more or less give up work to look after both of us.
Even now I’ve never spent a single moment alone with Amelie. Because of my disability I can’t look after her alone, there are too many things that could go wrong.
I can’t bathe her alone or change her myself. The world that I knew has collapsed and the pain of not being able to care for my little girl is devastating.
There have been so many mother-and-daughter bonding moments that I have missed. And I will never get those back. Every time I see a mother walking with her baby I am in tears.
I’ve gone from being an active young wife to being entirely dependent on Adam. Not only does he have to care for Amelie, he has become my career too.
Jetha and her husband are now raising money to help pay for physiotherapy treatment.
“I would need to spend three months at the [rehabilitation center] – but it will cost [$58,000],” Jetha explained. “I had a preliminary examination there in October and they are confident that after the treatment, I may be able to take a few steps using a walking frame. The hope of that is what keeps us going.”
Chelsea and Westminster Hospital issued the following statement regarding the incident:
This was a very complex, rare and tragic case and we offer our sincere condolences to Mrs Jetha and her family. We have fully reviewed our procedures for [post-anesthetic] monitoring and for rapid transfer to specialist units for imaging and neurosurgery. We cannot offer any further comment at the moment as this case is the subject of legal proceedings.